New Users of OS X (7): Some more useful maintenance utilities ; plus comments on this week's WWDC and related events
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Yesterday, Thai time, Steve Jobs made the keynote speech at the WWDC in San Francisco and this year I am stuck in Bangkok. I have a report on what was announced later. This week's Bangkok Post column looks further at useful utilities.
I mentioned Flash last week and this weekend a new insecurity was announced by Adobe. It affects Flash on Macs, and Flash and Acrobat on Windows, and could let attackers take control of your computer. A fix should be coming soon we are told.
Rumours at that time included new iPhone, new iPhone OS, Safari 5, a new download service, which along with the iPhone means a new iTunes. We also heard on Monday, a few hours before the keynote, of a totally new device that none of the rumours got before: a magic trackpad and some sources call it a slate. Anyone remember the slate rumour from last year when it was put forward as a name for the iPad and we all groaned? Now perhaps it makes more sense although it did not appear after all that.
I would not have been surprised to see an update to the Mac mini, or the Mac Pro, and we might as well throw in iPods: when was the last time they were refreshed. The reality -- what was actually announced -- is next.
There are several new features of Safari 5, which looked the same to me when I started it up, so I checked About Safari to make sure. These include almost 50 fixes and a reader for looking at articles on the web without distraction -- it removes extra content and clutter. Nice actually. There is a menu item in View, or we can use Shift + Command + R. There is no toolbar icon but in the address bar there is a reader button which we can click. This supersedes the RSS icon. Entering the reader, removes all ads and other stuff from a page and increases the font size to give a really nice display of the text. This will be useful in teaching.
I also see that Bing is now listed as a search engine in the General Preferences of Safari. AppleInsider is one site that has more information on the new browser and they confirm another rumour that sand-boxed extensions are now to become available for Safari.
With the first, I guess a switch in policy, either from Apple or local rules; while the latter may be due to the shipment via DHL. There were changes last year in the way batteries could be transported by airlines, so maybe the courier services have changed too.
The main advertised features are a way to see callers when you speak to them; the improved display of 960 x 640 which had been predicted; the multitasking which had been previewed a while back; and HD video recording. That sounds interesting.
It is set for release in late June for the US, UK, France and Germany. Another 18 countries, including Hong Kong and Singapore, are listed for July; with 24 more in August and another 44 in September. Guess which list we are probably in.
Part of the trick is for developers to incorporate this into their apps and the press release mentioned iTunes 9.2. I only had 9.1.1 so that is coming somewhere, sometime. Another check with Software Update showed nothing so I tried the Check for Updates item in iTunes and that showed me as being up to date. Coming soon, I guess and that may be linked to the iPhone software update too which is now called iOS4. Rik Myslewski at the Register has some interesting facts on this and his own interpretation as well.
Some of the early reports I read, mentioned that there was a hitch in the presentation as the wifi ground to a halt. San Francisco at conference time is always poor and on a couple of occasions in the hotels, with deadlines approaching, I have been stuck with no connection. If even Steve got bitten by this, that shows how limits can be reached. The video has Steve a little frustrated but when he asks some of the bloggers to help him out and get off line, there is much laughter. But he also has backups, not that there was much improvement. "Well, Jeez. . ." he says at one point.
An added feature of the new iPhone is a gyroscope which is being used by some games we hear. More interesting for me was the video calls as this confirms the forward facing camera, and from the screen shots I have seen that looks like two cameras.
As part of the upgrade, there is a new iMovie app, as yet unavailable, but when it comes it will be sold for $5. I guess this will only be for certain phones too.
A rumour suggested that the iWork app might soon also become available for the iPhone. Someone saw a screenshot that may have been an error, but nonetheless, this has some potential.
Chris Rawson made an interesting discovery about the iPhone by looking at the tech specs and some other sources. The antenna with the new iPhone is multiband which means it can now be made available for other networks that had not been able to use it.
The video goes straight for the heart, but although some sources attribute it to Sam Mendes, this is apparently not the one by him. That is coming soon we hear.
For younger listeners (and readers) the singer is Louis Armstrong: Satchmo. Note the different races in the video, which is typical of Apple's appeal to universality, the soldier clearly on assignment, and the Matt Damon lookalike near the end (was that Matt Damon?).
We later found some notes on the iOS4 update and it is free for iPhone owners and for the iPod touch, but not all features will be available. So I won't get multitasking, wallpaper or Bluetooth keyboard support for my 3G; while the original iPhone and the earlier iPod touch will not be able to have the upgrade at all. More details are provided by Leanna Lofte.
With Steve Jobs basking in the limelight as he has done for a while now, it is useful to remember it was not always like that and some of us can remember the time when he was sacked from Apple. Of course he went on to put NeXt together and that OS now forms the basis for OS X, as Gil Amelio -- who is often criticised -- had the foresight to buy that company and bring back Jobs. We were reminded of how things go by an interview this week in The Daily Beat, by Thomas E. Weber, in which John Sculley (the Pepsi Man) is interviewed and admits some mistakes in his dealings with Jobs, all with the benefit of hindsight of course. We all know he could have done it better, but that was then, and this is now.
I was talking to some students this week and one has recently come back from studying in Australia where, he moaned, every thing is based on data charges and these are high. Malaysia has some similar plans too. If this catches on, it will just make the carriers lazy: instead of making their networks lean and mean and capable of carrying the data that will be needed, they will sit back and let the cash flow in.
Dialing the phone did no good as it was in silent mode. Using Mobile Me he was able to confirm that it was on his property right away. He sent a text message with the sound feature and tracked it down to a freshly dug hole in his flowerbed. The dog had found it in the driveway and buried it so well that he claims he never would have seen it or recovered it if not for MobileMe.
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