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10 days with iPhone 4S: a personal review

TUAW.com - Mon, 10/24/2011 - 11:00am

Under normal circumstances, I would not be considered a target customer for the iPhone 4S. I bought the iPhone 4 on launch day. I was not up for renewal until late November.

Because of work commitments (look for the upcoming "Taking Your iPhone 4S to the Max" co-written with fellow TUAW bloggers), I paid the early upgrade penalty and received my iPhone 4S on October 14.

I've now spent 10 focused days with the iPhone 4S, exploring onboard features for technical coverage (I probably know a little more about how to make selections and share media in the Photo app than any normal person ought). The rest of the time I've been doing what the iPhone is meant to do: place phone calls, run errands, take family pictures and so forth.

Here's some extremely subjective feedback on my personal 4S experience during this time.

Battery

I know there's been talk about the decreased standby battery time, but man does this iPhone rock out battery-wise. My daughter and I took a trip over the weekend, and she subjected my phone (and my grandfathered unlimited data plan -- bless it) to an unmentionable number of hours of "My Little Pony," courtesy of YouTube.

The iPhone 4S also endured several games of Bejeweled (normally a battery sucker), navigation through maps, and lots and lots of Siri. Despite near constant use, the iPhone 4S made it to the end of each day. It's noticeably a usage power-house compared to the iPhone 4.

Camera

The shutter speed on this unit is simply amazing. With Autumn on full-blast, the child and I spent a lot of time throwing leaves into the air and snapping pictures of them as they fell. We have picture after picture of those leaves frozen in the air, frozen in time, with beautiful crisp resolution. You could not do that with earlier generation units.

Siri

Whether it's finding a restaurant, setting an alarm, or updating a to-do list, Siri has seen lots of use over the last 10 days. It already feels natural to pick up the iPhone, press the Home button and speak.

Siri, in and of itself, has been the main reason I am currently not using a lock code on my phone. That instant access is just so seductive. "Read me my texts" and "Reply to it" are so simple to use and the voice recognition component is absolutely insanely good. I used Voice Memos a lot on my old iPhone -- including the whole unlock / find the app / tap it / start recording sequence. I've touched it maybe once since the 4S arrived.

To be fair, my wish list for Siri is now about a mile long (launching apps is near the top) and the technology is far from perfect, but the feature is amazing.

Airplay Mirroring

The built-in mirroring got reasonable use this past week as I ended up demoing my 4S a lot. The feature works exactly as advertised, with good mirrored responsiveness. If you demo the iPhone, it's a must-have option -- one that you don't get on any other device but the iPad 2.

Processor speed

The iPhone 4S feels plenty zippy, though I should note that I haven't subjected it to serious testing just yet, as I've been focused on writing. This means I haven't done any hardcore gaming, either.

It's not all roses, of course. I'm annoyed by mobile Safari's lack of responsiveness to typing URLs (this seems to be an iOS 5 issue and not unique to the 4S) despite the 4S's high-end processor. I know the extra power is there, I just haven't really internalized it through any personal experience of performance gains.

Phone calls

I have run signal strength tests on the 4S, put it in my signal-killing hands, and made phone call after phone call. Both objectively and subjectively, this is a far better phone-call making unit than the 4 ever was. It maintains good signal quality under more stress, and does not seem to suffer from my hand-held attenuation the way the 4 did. I'm not a quality assessment professional for telephony, but my 4S just seems to work better. I like it a lot.

Conclusions

If you're an iPhone 4 owner, should you consider a jump to the 4S? Each of the points I've listed above may be a motivator. If you need that better camera, that better battery, or Airplay mirroring, the 4S has those items in spades. If you want Siri or the upgraded processor, you're not going to find those anywhere else. If you've had signal problems in the past, the 4S holds out the promise of better telephony, at least in my non-scientific experience.

I'm really happy with my 4S purchase, even more than I expected to be. Yes, it has the same case shape, but as far as I can tell it feels like a new generation -- not just a speed bump. I wish the Apple paradigm (new models each year) and the carrier paradigm (subsidized items, two year contracts, early cancellation penalties) were more in sync.

Depending where you are on your contract, the upgrade may or may not make sense financially. In terms of equipment quality, however, I think most people will be satisfied customers once they really start using the 4S.

10 days with iPhone 4S: a personal review originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Mon, 24 Oct 2011 13:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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IPEVO Typi folio case and Chopstakes styli for iPad

TUAW.com - Mon, 10/24/2011 - 10:00am

IPEVO is an innovative computer peripheral manufacturer that has produced some rather impressive products -- the P2V USB Document Cam and Tubular Wireless Speakers, to name two -- and is now making a leap into the iPad market with two new products. The Typi (US$79) is a folio case for iPad with a removable Bluetooth keyboard, while Chopstakes ($34.95 - $45.95 per pair) are a pair of styli for your favorite tablet.

IPEVO Typi folio case and Bluetooth keyboard

TUAW has reviewed a number of folio cases for the iPad and iPad 2. These cases all have one thing in common -- they look somewhat book-like, and totally encase the iPad. For the most part, the cases are made of either a plastic material or a more natural material like leather. We've also reviewed a lot of keyboard cases for iPad -- these are usually designed like a folio, but include a stationary or removable Bluetooth keyboard so that users can type on a real keyboard rather than the virtual keyboard on the iPad.

The Typi is a folio keyboard case that comes in either black or tan felt with a brown leather strap. That strap serves several purposes -- when the Typi is closed, it wraps around to the front of the case and holds everything in place with a strong magnet. When the Typi is opened, there is a snap on the strap that plugs into one of three receptacles to prop up the iPad's screen.

I have to admit that the Typi is one of the better-looking folio cases I've had a chance to review. The review case has the tan exterior, and it looks very classy with the leather strap. The keyboard is encased is similar leather and is as easy on the eyes as it is on the hands.

Like many of the keyboard cases, the Typi has a removable keyboard that is held in place with magnets. If you don't like where the keyboard is, it's no problem to just move it to a more comfortable position. The keyboard comes with a standard micro-USB to USB cable for charging -- there's no AC adapter included, but considering that most of us have either an iPad "brick" or a handful of other USB charging adapters, it's a nice touch that they didn't include another one.

At $79 MSRP, the Typi is much less expensive than other keyboard folios I've reviewed. By comparison, the MSRP for the Qmadix Portfolio for iPad 2 is $149, and the two folio cases are almost identical.

I could write about the various and sundry positions that the Typi folds into, how the keyboard works with its 13 hotkeys and more, but I'll let you take a look at the very descriptive Typi page to get the details. Be sure to look at the photos in the gallery, though.

Gallery: IPEVO Typi folio keyboard case and Chopstakes styli

Chopstakes iPad styli

The first time IPEVO told me about the Chopstakes styli (yes, that is the plural of stylus), I wondered why anyone would need two styluses. The Chopstakes come in two models -- Long ($45.95) and Short ($34.95) -- and are made of aluminum that tapers from a square top down to a circular bottom covered ending in a soft hemispherical capacitive tip.

A lot of us don't use styluses, so what the heck are you going to do with two? I kind of got the idea about these things when I was experiencing some pain in my right fingertip this weekend. Any time I tried to use a trackpad or my iPad, it hurt. So, being a fan of chopsticks for eating Asian food, I decided to give the Chopstakes a try.

I have small hands, so I used the short Chopstakes. First, I used one of the Chopstakes as a regular old stylus. It works very well -- the short model balanced in my hand very well, and the tip provides a lot of pinpoint detail when you use a light tough, or a wider footprint when you push a little bit. The thin cylindrical bottom of the Chopstakes makes it very easy and comfortable to hold -- it's about the same diameter as a stick pen at that point, but the extra heft of the aluminum body makes it feel like a fancy pen.

I was very dubious about using two Chopstakes, but I can see several situations where it would be useful. First, if you like to use two-finger gestures like rotate or zoom-in/zoom-out, they're impossible to do with traditional single fixed point styluses. Holding a pair of styluses as if they were a pair of chopsticks makes it possible to do two-finger multitouch gestures while using the Chopstakes.

In this case, your hands are further up on the Chopstakes, near the wider and square tops. This part of the design makes is comfortable to hold the styluses like a pair of chopsticks. By the way, if you've never used chopsticks, there's a three-step tutorial inside the cardboard liner in which the Chopstakes are packed. The Chopstakes are packed in a lockable plastic carrying case, perfect for carrying the pair in a backpack or bag.

I can think of other uses for the Chopstakes. If you're using a music app, they're quite useful as drumsticks -- I used 'em, one in each hand, on some of the drum kits in Garage Band for iPad, and did a reasonable job drumming (although that's really Dave Caolo's forté). I also played around with the two styli in the fun Bebot app, although I can't really say that it was an improvement over just using two fingers.

How did the Chopstakes work instead of a finger on the surface of the iPad? Just fine. And I plan on continuing to use one of the pair as a iPad stylus until my finger decides to stop hurting.

Conclusion

IPEVO seems to understand the Apple market. They're doing a great job of making well-designed, well-made, and reasonably-priced products that fill specific needs. Sure, there are other folio keyboard cases for the iPad 2 out there, but the Typi is nicely constructed, attractive, and less expensive than similar cases. The Chopstakes are unique, and might find a place in the iPad bag of musicians, painters, and photographers who want to try out a well-balanced and high quality pair of styluses.

IPEVO Typi folio case and Chopstakes styli for iPad originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Mon, 24 Oct 2011 12:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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In-store pickup option coming to Apple's online store

AppleInsider.com - Mon, 10/24/2011 - 9:34am
Customers may soon be able to buy a product from Apple's online store and pick it up in person at one of the company's retail outlets.


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Siri Co-Founder Kittlaus leaves Apple

TUAW.com - Mon, 10/24/2011 - 9:30am

According to a report from AllThingsD, Siri co-founder Dag Kittlaus has left Apple to pursue his own interests. The departure was supposedly amicable and Kittlaus will use his newly-found free time to spend time with his family in Chicago and explore new entrepreneurial ideas. He reportedly left Apple right after the launch of the iPhone 4S and the debut of new and improved Siri speech recognition assistant.

His departure won't affect the future development of Siri as other members of the Siri executive team are expected to stay at Apple. Once a stand-alone iOS application, Siri was acquired by Apple in early 2010. The voice assistant is now integrated into the version of iOS 5 that ships on the iPhone 4S. It offers a conversational voice interface that lets you send and receive text messages, search the web, add reminders and appointments, navigate using Apple Maps, get the weather forecast and more.

Siri Co-Founder Kittlaus leaves Apple originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Mon, 24 Oct 2011 11:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Tablet component suppliers concerned over iPad's dominance

TUAW.com - Mon, 10/24/2011 - 9:00am

Tablet component suppliers in Asia are concerned about the lack of competition in the tablet market. The iPad is the dominant player and is driving the growth in the industry. This is great now that the iPad is growing 166% year over year, but it doesn't bode well for the future when iPad sales reach their saturation point.

Other tablet manufacturers are either dropping out of the race completely or proceeding cautiously. As a result, these companies are ordering small volume orders which won't help component suppliers when the demand for the iPad sales begin to level off.

To combat this possible slowdown, component suppliers are reportedly working hard to meet the demands of these trailing tablet makers. Second tier component suppliers, in particular, are more flexible and willing to accept these smaller orders. These suppliers are likely grabbing orders while they can and hope that one of these competing tablets will catch on before iPad demand begins to plateau.

Tablet component suppliers concerned over iPad's dominance originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Mon, 24 Oct 2011 11:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Siri co-founder leaves Apple following iPhone 4S launch

AppleInsider.com - Mon, 10/24/2011 - 8:06am
The co-founder and CEO of Siri, responsible for developing the voice recognition technology in the iPhone 4S, has departed Apple on "amicable" terms.


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Apple updates iPad 2 Smart Covers with 'more vibrant' colors

TUAW.com - Mon, 10/24/2011 - 8:05am

Along with the MacBook Pro updates this morning, Apple's store is now featuring a revamped line of Smart Covers for the iPad 2. There's a new 'Dark Gray' polyurethane cover, and all the poly covers feature 'more vibrant colors' and color-matched microfiber linings.

As the design gods giveth, they also taketh away: the orange Smart Cover is being dropped from the line. If you were planning to customize for Halloween, better rush out and get one before they're all gone.

Thanks to everyone who sent this in.

Apple updates iPad 2 Smart Covers with 'more vibrant' colors originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Mon, 24 Oct 2011 10:05:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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If MobileMe suddenly stops working on the Mac

MacOSXHints.com - Mon, 10/24/2011 - 7:30am
I have 2 iMacs and an iPhone all in sync via MobileMe. Out of the blue, one of the iMacs refused to sync. It let me sign in via Preferences » MobileMe; but the Mac was no longer registered and nothing would permit me to re-register the Mac.

All of the other devices were working fine.

Here's how I got it to work again:
  • First sign out from the affected Mac.
  • Then go into Keychain Access. In the list of Keys, seek out a Key called MobileMe Password which has the Cloud icon beside it. It's probably in the Login keychain. Right Click (Ctrl+Click) on this and delete it.
  • Now sign in to MobileMe via Preferences and all will be well. Click on Account and then Advanced and Register your Mac.
  • When you've done that, select items to Sync and when prompted choose Merge -- this is vital to preserve what's on your Mac.

[crarko adds: This sounds like a damaged Keychain, or something getting s ...


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10.7: Unanticipated but welcome behavior in Photostream

MacOSXHints.com - Mon, 10/24/2011 - 7:30am
More of an observation than hint but from the Apple site (and Geniuses at the stores), I was expecting to have to move photos taken on my iPhone from Photostream to the permanent library on the iPhone to preserve them after the 30 day limit.

Not so. Both on my iPhone and my iCloud-synced MacBook Air, the photos are both in Photostream and in the Library automatically. Personally, I think this is preferred behavior but does seem to defeat Apple's goal of not having too many pics stored on the iDevices.

[crarko adds: I haven't tried Photostream as part of my general putting-off of the iCloud transfer, but the behavior mentioned here is what I would expect, and would have been pretty annoyed has it been otherwise. You should never be forced to do these things manually.]


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Hiding purchases in the App Store/iTunes Store

MacOSXHints.com - Mon, 10/24/2011 - 7:30am
It looks like you can finally hide purchases from the the App Store (and the iTunes store).

This may have been mentioned somewhere before, but I haven't seen it.

If you open iTunes and go to the iTunes store and click on 'purchased,' you'll get your list of purchases. From here, if you mouseover a particular purchase (movie, tv show, app), you'll see a little X in the top left corner. If you click on the X, you'll see a message: 'Are you sure you want to hide this purchase? You can unhide purchases from your Account Information page.'

Click the X and the purchase is now hidden on all your Apple devices.

[crarko adds: I don't know how new this is, but I'd not noticed it before either. Handy to know for things like the MLB app that have a new version each year.]


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Apple updates iPad 2 Smart Covers with color changes

AppleInsider.com - Mon, 10/24/2011 - 7:27am
Apple on Monday revised its lineup of magnetic Smart Covers for the iPad 2, adding a few color options while discontinuing the orange polyurethane version, among other changes.


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Apple updates MacBook Pro with larger hard drives, slightly faster processors

TUAW.com - Mon, 10/24/2011 - 7:00am

Apple silently updated its MacBook Pro line of notebooks with slightly faster processors and larger hard drives. The update bumps up the processors by a small .1 to .2 GHz (not 1 to 2 GHz, sorry!) and increases hard drive capacity by 180 to 250 GB. The GPUs in the MacBook Pro 15" and 17" lines have also gotten a bump, with the low-end configurations of the 15" now sporting a Radeon 6750M with 512MB of video RAM. Here's how each model has changed:

  • 13" MacBook Pro base model has a 2.4 GHz processor and 500 GB hard drive, up from 2.3 GHz and 320 GB.
  • 13" MacBook Pro model has a 2.8 GHz processor and 750 GB hard drive, up from 2.7 GHz and 500 GB.
  • 15" MacBook Pro base model has a 2.2 GHz processor, up from 2.0 GHz. The 500 GB hard drive has not changed. GPU is now a 6750M with 512MB VRAM (up from a 6490M/256).
  • 15" MacBook Pro high-end model has a 2.4 GHz processor, up from 2.2 2.3 GHz. The 750 GB hard drive has not changed. GPU is now a 6770M with 1GB of VRAM.
  • 17" MacBook Pro model has a 2.4 GHz processor, up from 2.2 GHz. The 750 GB hard drive has not changed. GPU is also a 6770M with 1 GB VRAM (up from the 6750M).

Though Apple has improved the specs of these machines, the price remains the same and they are all available for immediate shipping from the US store.

Thanks to everyone who sent this in.

Apple updates MacBook Pro with larger hard drives, slightly faster processors originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Mon, 24 Oct 2011 09:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Dear Aunt TUAW: Can I disable those battery alerts?

TUAW.com - Mon, 10/24/2011 - 6:15am

Dear Aunt TUAW,

Maybe I'm the only one this bothers, but Apple made a big deal about their whole new notifications in iOS 5. Then one day I was playing Canabalt, and I'm up to over 15,000! My high score is 17, so my heart really starts beating as I draw in.

Suddenly I got a big pop-up on my phone alerting me that I have 20% Battery remaining. Maybe there was a glitch or something but my game kept going for about a second (maybe even a second and a half) before pausing. Obviously long enough for my poor little man to plummet to his death. I looked but couldn't find a way to set that type of notification to "banner."

Maybe even go away completely?

Please help if you know.

If not, let's all complain and maybe Apple will add that in a future update!

Your loving nephew,

Adam

Dear Adam,

Oof. That must have hurt! Unfortunately, power level notifications are not controllable through user settings, the way that reminders, appointments, and messages are.

You can always try submitting a feature request to Apple. Unfortunately, those tend to be popularity contests -- Apple tends to pay attention to the most requested items, and this is a wee bit, shall we say, niche.

Unfortunately, Auntie doesn't really have any advice other than play games on a fuller charge where possible so you don't run into low-battery warnings. And yes, she knows how lame that advice is.

Got other suggestions for Adam? Add them to the comments.

Hugs,

Auntie T.

Dear Aunt TUAW: Can I disable those battery alerts? originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Mon, 24 Oct 2011 08:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Apple building prototype televisions for potential 2012 launch - report

AppleInsider.com - Mon, 10/24/2011 - 5:49am
As rumors of an Apple television set pick up steam, one new report claims that the company is already building prototype models for a launch potentially as soon as late 2012.


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Apple quietly updates MacBook Pro lineup with faster CPUs, graphics

AppleInsider.com - Mon, 10/24/2011 - 4:31am
With no mention of the update, Apple on Monday improved its MacBook Pro lineup with slightly faster Intel processors, as well as new graphics processors and larger hard drives in some models.


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Microsoft boasts patent licenses with over half of Android market

AppleInsider.com - Sun, 10/23/2011 - 9:40pm
Microsoft announced on Sunday that a new patent license agreement with original design manufacturer Compal means that companies accounting for more than half of all Google Android-based devices now have agreements with the software giant.


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Steve Jobs biography released early for Kindle, iBookstore (updated)

TUAW.com - Sun, 10/23/2011 - 8:35pm

Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs has been released a couple hours early on the Kindle Store, and its release in the US iBookstore is expected at midnight. The US iBookstore is still showing the book as available for pre-order as of this writing, but it should be available for download within the next couple of hours.

Multiple details of the biography have leaked out over the past week via multiple media outlets, and a 60 Minutes interview with Walter Isaacson provided some fascinating insights into both the biography itself and the man who was its subject.

Along with many other members of the Apple-loving world, I am very much looking forward to reading it, and I will have a review of the work up on TUAW as soon as I've finished reading it. Look for that review later on in the week -- with a print length of 656 pages, it might take me a day or two to read through the whole book.

Thanks to the readers who tipped us!

Update: The biography went live on the iBookstore an hour earlier than expected, so it's now available.

Steve Jobs biography released early for Kindle, iBookstore (updated) originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Sun, 23 Oct 2011 22:35:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Steve Jobs biography arrives early on iBooks, Amazon's Kindle [u]

AppleInsider.com - Sun, 10/23/2011 - 7:53pm
The much-anticipated authorized biography on Apple co-founder Steve Jobs has arrived a few hours early for customers who purchased the book through Amazon's Kindle ebook platform or the iBookstore [updated].


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Apple posts 'Celebrating Steve' video

TUAW.com - Sun, 10/23/2011 - 7:00pm
Apple has posted its video of the celebration of Steve Jobs's life and accomplishments. "Celebrating Steve" is the same video broadcast to Apple employees across its retail stores on October 19, and it's available for viewing on Apple's site. The video is 81 minutes long, so none of us have had a chance to watch it yet... but I know what I'm doing with the rest of my afternoon.

Apple posts 'Celebrating Steve' video originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Sun, 23 Oct 2011 21:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Apple makes 'Celebrating Steve' event video publicly available

AppleInsider.com - Sun, 10/23/2011 - 6:06pm
A special event filmed live at Apple's corporate campus in Cupertino, Calif., was published by the company on its website on Sunday, allowing the world to see how Apple said goodbye to its late co-founder, Steve Jobs.


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