Archive for the ‘Apple’ Category

Instinctiv takes a shot at mood shuffle

Music and mood are very much related. Music can amplify what you’re feeling; it can bring you down; it can cheer you up. Often times I adjust what I’m listening to depending on my mood.

A year ago I posted about the idea for an iTunes “mood predictor” that watches your listening habits and adapts the playlist to your current mood. It seems there was certainly a market for it, as evidenced by the new iPhone application called Instinctiv Shuffle. Currently a Jailbreak-only app, Instinctiv wathces your listening habits and makes an educated guess about which similar songs in your library fit the way you’re feeling.

I don’t have an iPhone so unfortunately I can’t test it out, but the YouTube commerical for it seems fairly convincing. Also the fact that the Web start-up company has already raised three-quarters of a million dollars in funding should be a good indication (though, as we know, not necessarily indicative of its quality).

Instinctiv will be available on the iPhone App Store, whenever that comes out.

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Social iTunes

I’ve been a longtime user of Last.fm, and while it’s a valuable resource for music discovery, it has its drawbacks. It’s not tied directly into iTunes, which means A) not everybody has it, and B) you have to go to a web site outside of your jukebox to access it. I like the idea behind iLike (no pun intended), but there’s so much more they could have done with it.

iLike is a social music site similar to Last.fm. It offers the ability to install a sidebar built into iTunes that, in addition to tracking and broadcasting what you’re listening to, shows you related music to the currently playing track, news about bands and tracks your friends on the service are listening to. But for people like me with large libraries, I get a lot of info about bands I don’t really care about.

The sidebar should take advantage of the mass wealth of metadata iTunes stores on listener history. Data like individual track play counts and skip counts would be great ways to choose which bands’ news gets delivered at the top, and which similar bands you’re more likely to want. Just because I have one song by 2Pac, doesn’t make me a fan of him. It shouldn’t be factored as heavily into my recommendations.

These services should also go beyond their walled gardens and take a cue from the Hype Machine, pulling blog posts and album reviews from outside sources. With all the investors watching these social music services (thesixtyone is another on that list), there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

Apple Not Showing Students the Love

The Mac OS X Leopard announcement wasn’t all good news. The software is up on the Apple Store web site, and apparently Apple Inc. has stopped showing students the love. Whereas all previous OS X updates cost students $79, reduced from the $129 retail price, Leopard’s education discount is now a measly $13–a price tag of $116 for students.

There has been a disturbing trend in the past few years–along the timeline of the company’s rebirth success story–of Apple giving fewer and fewer perks to students. Apple’s summer hardware program, where it gives a free outdated iPod to students who purchase a new computer, still seems to be in place. But software discounts–iLife and iWork ’08 saw price increases as well–and discounts on less expensive hardware–forget about discounted iPods anymore– are over.

Students are an incredibly important demographic for Apple, a company that prides itself on making hardware for artists. What group has incredible ambitions but little money to act on them? College kids. So when your company’s Facebook group has more than 400,000 members, it’s probably a good idea to keep that demographic happy.

Apple to Open Multi-touch Platform

In a letter posted to the Hot News section on Apple.com, Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs finally put the concerns of techie iPhone owners and developers to rest with confirmation that a software development kit (SDK) for the iPhone and iPod touch will be available to devs in February, 2008.

I had recently managed to tone down the unending amount of Apple news on the blog (well, kind of), but this is simply too interesting not to post. After a rather baffling game of cat-and-mouse since the iPhone’s release and subsequent hacking and then subsequent firmware update from Apple locking out the modifications, Jobs lays his hand on the table–to an extent.

“It will take until February to release an SDK because we’re trying to do two diametrically opposed things at once–provide an advanced and open platform to developers while at the same time protect iPhone users from viruses, malware, privacy attacks, etc.,” Jobs writes.

Sounds well and good. Apple wants to get its new OS out the door and then focus its development resources on making the SDK as stable as possible. Then it will be all clear for JailBreak-like open app development, right? Well, maybe not.

“Nokia, for example, is not allowing any applications to be loaded onto some of their newest phones unless they have a digital signature that can be traced back to a known developer,” Jobs writes. “While this makes such a phone less than ‘totally open,’ we believe it is a step in the right direction.”

Could this mean developers may have to go through a lengthy authorization process whenever they want to offer an app up to consumers? Apple has been very lenient with Dashboard widget authorization, but will the trend continue? We won’t know for sure for another four months, but this news is enough for me to change my mind on the iPod touch as a platform. Me want.

iCal Dropbox in New Mac OS X Version

The 10.5 Leopard version of the Mac operating system has been confirmed for release next Friday, Oct. 26. Among its list of 300+ new features is a much improved version of iCal. Aside from the new interface, CalDAV sync support and the correctly predicted iPhone notes syncing is one feature I suggested last month in “A Better To-do List.”

Apple’s feature list details a new option called Event Dropbox. “Share the information you need for a successful meeting,” reads the iCal Leopard feature list. “Simply drag photos, video, or any kind of document into an event. Send email invitations to attendees and your attachments go along for the ride.”

My idea was for iCal to include “the ability to drag files and emails onto a to-do entry and have them linked. I could then easily access any related materials through the to-do entry.”

Apple’s description doesn’t specify whether this applies to to-do entries as well as events, but I think we have a good chance. Finally iCal is on its way to becoming a fully featured project center.

Maps Made for iPod touch

I did a post last month on Web-based substitutes for iPhone applications missing from the iPod touch. There wasn’t really a suitable alternative to the iPhone’s nifty, Google-developed maps app, so I simply suggested the Google Maps web site. It’s not custom-tailored to the i-products, but it does the job.

Thanks to a tip from web developer Al, he pointed me toward his new baby, iTouchMap.com. Complete with an Apple-like interface, iTouchMap offers many of the great features of the maps application setup in a compact interface suitable for the iPod touch.

While the site’s driving directions feature doesn’t operate exactly like the iPhone’s handy turn-by-turn directions, you can load up separate Safari tabs on your WiFi connection before you head on the road, so you have all of them with you without killing a bunch of trees.

Sync iPhone with Mac Keychain

I have a ton of passwords. It seems like every web site now requires a username and password to do anything. Facebook, Digg, the New York Times: it never ends! Fortunately I have all these logins saved in Keychain Access, a universal application where Macs save all your passwords for access from Safari, Camino or any app that needs them.

It came as a bit of surprise when I learned the iPhone and iPod touch don’t sync with Keychain. Not only does it not sync, but you can’t even save passwords onto the devices. Every time you want to access the many users-only sites on the web, you need to manually enter your login information.

It’s a minor annoyance, but it is one that could be fixed with a simple addition of Keychain syncing. iTunes already syncs your media, address book, calendar, mail and bookmarks. Why not your passwords?

Apple Cripples iPod touch Calendar

Look, I was trying to be optimistic when I wrote “No Maps? No Problem,” listing a bunch of online tools that could fill the gap left by Apple Inc.’s removal from the iPod touch of many great iPhone applications, like Mail and Google Maps.

But now we find out that Apple has purposely crippled the calendar on the iPod touch to only display events, removing the ability to create new ones on the device. And I’m really fuming.

All this means is that I would have to use Google Calendar instead of iCal from now on, but is this Apple’s goal? To drive everyone away from using its applications to web-based alternatives.

Going back to my predictions, it seems we only got two-thirds of the equation. We got the widescreen iPod; we got the internet communications device; but Apple isn’t giving us the PDA.

And this is a deal breaker for me. So until the hackers find a way to get the iPhone apps onto the iPod touch (and how hard could it be? It’s the same freakin’ software and mostly the same hardware), count me out.

iPod touch: No Maps? No Problem

If you live in a city or college campus you’re no stranger to wi-fi. It’s everywhere. You can find a free hotspot at many restaurants and many campuses offer students access virtually anywhere.

So if there’s virtually always an Internet access point available, why would you buy an iPhone and subscribe to AT&T’s pricey, anywhere-web-access EDGE service? An iPod touch with wi-fi can be a worthwhile, affordable alternative.

But for whatever reason iPod touch is missing a few key features of iPhone. Aside from the absence of the 2 megapixel camera and the baffling choice not to include Notes, there’s a solution for the rest.

It’s Safari to the rescue. So bookmark these web sites on your iPod touch, and your iPod can be just like the big boys’.

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iPod touch: It All Came True

The predictions could not have been more spot on.

Sept. 5 announcement? Check.

Chubby, video iPod nanos? Check.

New iPod interface? Check.

An iPod that’s an iPhone minus the phone? Hell yeah!

I should probably apologize on behalf of the internet for ruining Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs’ surprise. Okay, the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store was a bit of a shock, and I didn’t expect Apple to keep the iPod classic line around after introducing the iPod touch. But overall the blogs did well.

How well did this one do? Let’s take a look back at the predictions.

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