iOS 8: A Very Specific Kind of Family Sharing

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My family upgraded to iOS 8 pretty quickly. My sister updated her iPhone 5, my dad updated his 4S and iPad mini, and my 5S and iPad Air were already ready. During her setup phase, my sister decided to try out a new iOS 8 feature called Family Sharing.

I’d read a little about the feature on Apple’s website and in iOS 8 reviews, but I hadn’t had any hands-on time with it, so I accepted the invite. A few minutes later my dad, my sister, and I were officially a digital Apple family. This gave us the ability to easily see each other’s app and media purchases, and it automatically set up Find My Friends and shared task lists and calendars for us.

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Dropbox Simplifies Pro Pricing: $10 Per Month for 1TB

Dropbox Pro 1TB

Dropbox announced a few pretty major changes to their Dropbox Pro accounts today, but the change I found most interesting was the simplification of the pricing and storage options. There’s now just one $10/month Dropbox Pro account that offers 1TB of storage, which is 10x more storage than was previously offered at that price point.

This is great for iOS users who want an alternative to Photo Stream for photo backups, since Dropbox can handle uploads of the photos and videos on your iPad’s Camera Roll (and do so in the background!). The new 1TB of storage for Dropbox Pro also pairs very nicely with Dropbox’s Carousel service for viewing and sharing your Dropbox photos…although we still need a dedicated iPad app to take full advantage of that on tablets.

I think this is great news, since I prefer Dropbox to competing services like Google Drive. However, I will likely be saving my money for iCloud Drive when it rolls out later this year, since that will natively back up my photos and videos from all of my devices at full resolution.

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Screens VNC for iPad review: Ideal for Productivity and Pranking!

Mac on your iPad

Mac on your iPad

In my first teaching job, my school at the time had a remote desktop system going where I could use my dodgy old computer at home to remotely connect to a desktop at school which gave me access to all of the programs I needed to prepare my lessons. I remember thinking it was almost like witchcraft – having more than one computer on your computer! It actually worked pretty well in the early days of broadband (despite having to set it to 16 colour mode!). This was a feature that I sorely missed when I moved schools. Jump in the DeLoren and get to 88.8 mph and fast forward to today. Fast connectivity and mobility everywhere means that we don’t have to rely on a meaty central server at a place of work to provide these connections, you can do it yourself at a fraction of the price. This is where Edovia’s Screens software comes in. [click to continue reading…]

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6 Things I’d like to see from the iWatch

dicktracy

Having followed and used Apple and Google products for a while now, the generalisation seems to be that Google is the risk taking young tearaway, often coming up with awesome ideas, but implementing them in a slightly haphazard manner and Apple takes these ideas, refines them like a wise old hand and releases something that works pretty flawlessly. Take the classic Android vs iPhone. Many of the features that Android has have been around ages before Apple implemented them on the iPhone. For example, Android implemented face unlock a while back, which was fun, not that secure and was more hassle than putting in a PIN. Apple refined that idea of using a part of your body to unlock your device with Touch ID, which by all accounts works pretty flawlessly. Fingerprint ID, is of course nothing new, it’s just no one had implemented it in such a refined way until the iPhone 5s. Other people come up with the ideas, Apple converts them into something the everyday consumer can find useful.

This is how I’m feeling about the upcoming iWatch (assuming the rumours are true, and I’ll call it iWatch for the duration of the article). Tech on your wrist is nothing new. Dick Tracy started it, Pebble took it to the next level, Samsung took it back a few steps with Gear, Android Wear seems interesting but underwhelming currently (although Google asserting control over the OS is a positive thing). This all makes the iWatch an interesting prospect because I’d like to think that if Apple do release such a product, they will do so without compromise in it’s function.

So, this is what I would love to see in a possible iWatch device, in no particular order:

1 – The main emphasis on fitness. 

There is talk that the device will have up to 10 sensors which will monitor a variety of things during your day and night. Apple’s trump card for this would surely be firstly, accurate sensing, and secondly some kind of sensor that is completely different to anything else out there. Maybe something that would provide analyses of your sweat – or even urine? OK, maybe I wouldn’t want to take that step, especially if the device is expensive. I wonder if you can get insurance for that sort of thing….

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When Did Video Calling Become So Easy?

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It occurred to me recently, after chatting with a couple of friends in Portland using my iPad, that video calling has actually become a regular and casual part of my life. It took a while to get here though.

There have long been ads for Rogers video calling on the subway, but they was restricted to cellphone calls over 3G, and there was a long time where many cellular devices still lacked a decent front-facing camera (if they had one at all). Video chatting has been around on the PC for a while in the form of “Skype dates” or meetings, but they were most often (and still are) scheduled events because they usually involve two parties logging onto a service and then making contact.

These days it has become trivial to start a video call with someone. That’s because of always-on services like FaceTime and Google Hangouts, where you can log in once and always be reachable, pending an Internet connection.
I don’t do it all the time, but it feels easy enough to ring someone up to check if they’re up for a video call. If they’re busy or don’t feel like being on camera, they’ll decline and message me back.

That’s significant because few of my friends are techies, so the fact that this has caught on with them means that this isn’t just me getting excited about the possibilities of technology to enhance our lives. This is one case of the future already feeling like it has come to pass, and I forgot to mark the exact date it all happened.

The downside of all of this is that video calls often ring across my Mac, iPhone, and iPad simultaneously, and answering the call on one device often leaves the other two ringing for a few seconds more…but I’m hoping someone smart will get to that at some point.

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My Biggest iOS 8 Wish: Way Better Auto-correction

Federico Viticci of MacStories recently unveiled version 4.0 of his website, and it’s gorgeous. One of the articles he chose to publish alongside the new design was a set of iOS 8 Wishes. I agree with most or all of the items on his list, but I think there was something missing. One of my […]

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Review: Marvel Unlimited 2.0 for iPad

Marvel Unlimited promises a Netflix-like all-you-can-eat subscription to a library of Marvel back issues. I find this idea far more appealing than spending $2–3 for a digital comic within ComiXology, so I decided to give Unlimited a shot last month. While I really did want to write a glowing review of a service that provides […]

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