Apple's got incredible amounts of money in the bank, as you probably already know. According to recent financial filings, Apple is about to spend a good bit of it. The company will reportedly spend US$8 billion during the next financial year, which is more than twice what it spend during the last 12 months. A full $900 million of that will go straight to its retail stores. Last year, the company (only?) spent $614 million on retail, so that's a nice improvement.
Other areas of spending are a little bit more about company infrastructure, presumably. Apple is moving forward on that brand new "mothership" campus, and presumably no expense will be spared there. The data center down in North Carolina is also set to receive a number of updates, including a rumored "solar farm" to power it. Apple's been growing by leaps and bounds lately, and while money in the bank is always nice, it seems like this upcoming year is going to be one where the company in Cupertino invests a little bit more in itself rather than just cash.
Apple expenditures to grow on solar project, new campus originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Mon, 31 Oct 2011 16:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
You can encode almost any sort of text into a QR code: a URL, phone number, text message, email address, twitter handle -- maybe even a haiku. QREncoder makes creating codes easy. Fire up the app, select the type of code you want, and bung your text in the box.
You've got a choice of size for your QR code, 5, 6, 9 and 12px and you can save it as a PNG for later use.
QREncoder is quick, easy to use and free from the Mac App Store, so is well worth checking out if you want to create quick response codes.Source | Permalink | Email this | Comments
It's the TUAW Daily Update, your source for Apple news in a convenient audio format. You'll get all the top Apple stories of the day in three to five minutes for a quick review of what's happening in the Apple world.
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A Reuters story in the New York Times yesterday noted that iPad producer Foxconn's plans to move iPad production to Brazil may be slowed by higher than expected production costs in the South American country.
Brazil had touted the fact that they had lured Foxconn to the city of Jundiai to build Apple's tablets. This would allow the country to start developing a technological industry similar to that of Korea and Taiwan. However, Brazil has some issues -- a largely unskilled labor pool and poor infrastructure -- that keep it from moving quickly into high-tech.
The result is that the Foxconn plants in the country will start by simply being assembly points for devices that are built from parts manufactured elsewhere in the world rather than being "home-grown." Brazil is also plagued with a top-heavy bureaucracy and high taxes that tend to drive businesses away.
Foxconn is producing iPhones in the country already, and hopes to start constructing iPads by the end of the year for sale within Brazil. The Brazilian government is making concessions, such as reducing tariffs on imported components, and is also rumored to be working with Foxconn on priority customs access, tax breaks and subsidized loans from a state bank to get the company to begin producing larger, more complex devices in the country.
But labor costs in Brazil, part of the value added to the materials used to construct Apple's products, are almost double what Foxconn pays employees at its facilities in China. That could stymie further expansion of Foxconn's plans in Brazil unless other costs are lowered enough to cover the difference.
Brazilian iPad production may be more costly than expected originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Mon, 31 Oct 2011 14:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
One of the more useful features of Siri on the iPhone 4S is the ability to send email messages by asking Apple's intelligent assistant to do it. Telling Siri to "Email [name or nickname] about [subject]" produces a nicely formatted, but empty Mail message that Siri asks you to complete via dictation. This works fine with sending email to individuals, but what about sending to groups?
Erica Sadun and I pondered this question as we were writing our popular ebook "Talking to Siri: Learning the Language of Apple's Intelligent Assistant." We found the answer in a US$3.99 app called MailShot Pro.
Installing the app on your iPhone 4S lets you create custom groups which Siri can use to send emails to several recipients at once. With a quick tap, you can import individual names from the Contacts app or groups from Address Book on your Mac. You can also add names and email addresses manually. The groups end up in your Contacts list, accessible to Mail (via Siri or directly), FaceTime, Messages, and any app that can use an address from Contacts.
Gallery: MailShot Pro and Siri
For the OCD folks out there, MailShot Pro includes a nice touch -- being able to sort the names in your group. If you only have a few groups with a handful of people in each group, you might wish to check out the free version of the app -- MailShot. Should you need more groups or have a lot of people in each group, MailShot Pro is available in the App Store with a tap.
Using Siri and MailShot Pro to send email to groups originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Mon, 31 Oct 2011 13:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
I usually don't review iPad stands, but the people from Striped Sail sent me a miFrames for iPad 2 to try out, and I found it quite clever. Unlike traditional iPad stands, the miFrame doubles as a picture frame enclosure.
Most people aren't going to buy an iPad just to use it as a digital picture frame, but those who use that feature (perhaps photo studios or graphic design offices that want to show off their work, not to mention grandmas) the miFrame is a nice choice. The frame/stand comes in black or silver precision-machined aluminum and can be positioned in portrait or landscape orientation. A five-foot USB cable runs from the base and can be plugged in to a power source, like an Apple USB charger, to keep the iPad charged. The long cable provides plenty of reach for positioning the stand just so.
The miFrame doubles as a traditional picture frame. You can slide an 8x10 printed photograph into the frame which will be displayed when you remove the iPad. That way the frame is useful when it's holding an iPad and when it's not.
One of the few drawbacks about the miFrame is that you actually have to snap the frame's border off to get the iPad in and out. It's easy to do and doesn't take too much time, but it would be nice if you could slide the iPad in without removing the frame. Also, the miFrame can't be hung on a wall, which some users might find limiting.Source | Permalink | Email this | Comments
Dear Aunt TUAW,
Auntie, you did a great job on the Siri book. I plan to work my way through it to maximize the use of Siri.
You indicate a Bluetooth headset can be used to communicate with Siri. I've never had one but I'd like to keep the iPhone in my pants pocket and be able to talk to Siri as well as hear her responses. Is two-way communication possible with Siri in this situation? If so, do I need a certain type of headset or headphones? Are you allowed to make recommendations?
You're assistance is greatly appreciated! Keep up the good work!
Your loving nephew,
Auntie has used both a Bluetooth earpiece and iPhone earbuds with Siri, and has found that the Apple earbuds were far better performance-wise. They worked very well in dealing with a pocketed-or-backpacked Siri, ambient-noise permitting (if the guy jogging next to you can't hear you over traffic, Siri won't either).
Auntie tested Siri with a Jawbone ICON and had a great deal of trouble getting Siri to recognize it consistently, even when using the Jawbone in the recommended touching-the-cheek-bone position. Auntie thinks it's probably because of the particular brand and mic pick-up and not because of the Bluetooth technology.
Obviously, this will also vary by noise conditions and the quality of the Bluetooth pickup. Unfortunately, Auntie didn't have access to any other BT devices to test with, so all she can report is that yes, it does work as long as you have a better audio pickup than the Jawbone provides.
Does anyone have a really good BT earpiece to recommend? Let Auntie know!
Auntie T.Source | Permalink | Email this | Comments
RunKeeper, the free fitness tracking app, just received a major upgrade that was announced this morning. The app has been gaining a lot of attention since mid-summer, when the company launched a Health Graph API that developers have been using to integrate RunKeeper capabilities into third-party apps and devices.
That's not keeping the RunKeeper team from keeping an eye on the core mobile app, and the upgrade shows that RunKeeper is listening to the desires of the user community. So what are the changes?
Auto Pause takes care of one common problem with apps that record your running, cycling and walking. When you stop running to tie a shoe, talk to a neighbor, wait for a traffic light to change, or take a picture of the snake that just crossed your path, you need to remember to pause the app's timer. If you don't, you'll find that your average speed for a run, ride or walk drops drastically. Auto Pause pauses tracking when you stop moving, then starts up the timer again when you begin running again.
If you use a third-party heart rate monitor with RunKeeper, the app now has Heart Rate Zone visuals and audio cues to let you know when you're in your optimal heart rate zone. The app has had audio coaching around target paces for a while, telling you if you're ahead or behind your pace. Now you can do the same thing with your heart rate, knowing when you're in the zone, need to work yourself a bit harder, or need to slow down a bit.
Finally, the RunKeeper team has included updates to their GPS algorithms that improve tracking performance and stability. Altogether, the team says that the performance of the app has improved as well.
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- Install SIMBL if you haven't already. Use the 0.9.9 version.
- Download ColorfulSidebar.
- Copy the file ColorfulSidebar.bundle from the Disk Image to /Library/Application Support/SIMBL/Plugins (or ~/Library/Application Support/SIMBL/Plugins).
- Restart Finder.
- Enjoy colorful icons in the sidebar once again!
[crarko adds: I tested this, and it works as described. I do prefer the colorful icons.]
[crarko adds: It's going to be a while before I get a 4s, due to my contract. For those who have one, is Siri as amazing as it sounds or is it just a 1.0 version in need of improvement?]
While I like using Mail.app with Gmail I don't like the 'All Mail' folder. Here's how to configure Mail so a deleted message ends up in the Trash folder on the Gmail server.
In Mail.app, under Preferences click the Accounts icon. Select your Gmail account. In the Trash section check the box 'Move deleted messages to the Trash mailbox' and check the box 'Store deleted messages on the server'. Close the Mail.app Preferences.
On the left side where the Mailboxes are located, expand the Gmail folder, and click on the Trash folder. Next, from the Mail.app menu select Mailbox » Use this Mailbox For » Trash ...
While my long-term quest for fitness has been stymied by a severe lack of motivation to actually get off of my butt and exercise, it comforts me to know that there are plenty of health-related iOS accessories to help me to at least track my stagnant weight. I own a Withings Scale, which sends my daily weight and BMI to a number of health apps, as well as a Withings Blood Pressure Monitor that connects to my iPhone to take my BP. For many people, though, the Withings products are a wee bit expensive. Now iHealth has introduced an iOS-compatible Bluetooth Body Scale that at US$69.95 is a bargain compared to the $159.00 Withings Scale. How does the HS3 Bluetooth Body Scale compare to the more expensive Withings Scale? Read on for details.Design
What do I mean by iOS compatible? The scale converses with a free iOS app that runs on any iOS 4.x - 5.0 device. That app connects over Bluetooth to the scale, which is an attractive glass slab featuring a large liquid-crystal display. The scale is powered by four included AAA batteries that should last for quite some time if my Withings scale is any indication. The LCD turns itself off after about a minute of non-use, and the scale probably uses very little power while waiting to be connected to your iOS device.
You could, of course, use the scale without the iOS app. That kind of defeats the purpose, though, and if you don't want to record and track your weight over time, it's probably a better idea to just go buy another non-connected scale.
Setting up the device is a piece of cake. You pop in the AAA batteries, turn on the scale by stepping on it, then activate Bluetooth on your iOS device. In the Bluetooth settings, the name of the scale appears -- something like "iHealth HS312345" -- and it shows that the device is not paired with your iOS device. Tapping on the device name pairs the devices, and the word "Connected" appears.
At that point, you just need to launch the iHealth Scale app. Your weight appears on the scale and is entered into the app. Step off of the scale, and the scale shuts off within a minute.Functionality
The iHealth HS3 scale isn't as sophisticated as the Withings Scale, which also determines your fat content and BMI. Then again, the Withings Scale is over twice the price. If you just want an automatic way to track your weight, then this scale definitely does the job.
The app provides a way to enter information about your height, current weight, goal weight, and the day that you wish to achieve a specific goal. That, along with input of how many calories you've ingested and the calories that you've burned, can tell you how many calories over or under your goal that you are. Confusingly, the app refers to the act of eating as "Absorption of calories" and exercising as "Consumption of calories." It makes sense when you think about it, but it's completely contrary to every other health tracking app I've seen.
Gallery: iHealth HS3 Bluetooth Body Scale
To enter food, you tap on an Add button and enter a food into a search field. The app responds with a list of foods, but I didn't find the lists to be as complete as those found in the Fitbit app. The quantities of food must be entered in grams, which is a total pain to those of us who use the US ounce/pound units for weight. There should be a way to enter other units, such as ounces, pounds, cups, fluid ounces, "one egg," etc.
Entering exercise is also somewhat confusing. You can't just tap something that says "I walked for 60 minutes" (like tapping a favorite activity); instead, you need to tap on a search field, enter a search term like "brisk walking," enter the time expended on that exercise, and then it is entered into the app.
The main app display has three windows: one for Bluetooth entry of weight, one for manual entry of weight, and a third that says "Upload Data." The latter window is useful if you take your weight, but don't have your iPhone handy to upload the weight. You can wait until later, then upload weight measurements to your iOS device by tapping the "Upload Data" button.
I found one thing that was rather annoying. The scale didn't automatically connect to my iPhone when I stepped on it. Instead, I ended up having to manually go into the Bluetooth settings and forcing a connection each time. I suppose that I could just have the scale save weights for a week and then upload the weight info once a week, but that kind of defeats the purpose of trying to track your weight daily.Conclusion
I found that the iHealth HS3 Scale worked just fine, but the app that accompanies the scale is really lacking. It's somewhat confusing to use, even though there's a detailed "FAQ" document built into the app. I also couldn't find a way to share the weight information with any other service or app. For example, if I wanted to send my weight information to Fitbit or my calorie tracking to another service, there's no way to do it. The marketing verbiage on the iHealth website says that you can "Easily share one-time readings or long-term trends with friends, family or doctors," but there is no way to do it with the current app.
If someone is really dedicated to tracking weight information, I would recommend the much more expensive Withings scale and app instead. It works with other services and apps -- Fitbit, RunKeeper, Weightbot, and many more -- thanks to the fact that Withings supplied an SDK for developers who want to include Withings health information in their apps.
That's not to say that the iHealth HS3 Scale isn't worthwhile. As I noted earlier, it's much less expensive than the Withings scale and could improve a lot if the app is updated. It all depends on what information you wish to track, and how you wish to share that information with other apps and services. The inability of the app to automatically reconnect to the scale at the present time is a definite issue that should be addressed.
iHealth HS3 Bluetooth Body Scale reveals your weight to iOS originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Mon, 31 Oct 2011 09:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
Squids is an interesting way of bringing tactical strategy to a very casual kind of game. The game has a nice RPG layer, with turn-based combat and classes of units that you can train and level up while playing. But the "combat" itself is super casual. During fights you essentially pull back and fling your squids around. In a way it feels like the game combines casual gameplay with more tactical thinking. Unfortunately, in practice the game never really succeeds at either.
Merely seeing how the two styles mix is fun. The game's only 99 cents for the launch sale right now, with full Game Center integration and plenty of content to explore. I'd say look at Squids if you're more looking for something more casual, but if you are really into tactical RPGs, it's likely you'll need a little more than this. On the other hand, if you've heard good things about games like Final Fantasy Tactics or Shining Force but tend to play more casual titles, Squids might be a great entry point. Final Fantasy Tactics is on iOS as well, but it ratchets up the complexity quite a few notches from Squids, even if the gameplay is similar.Source | Permalink | Email this | Comments