Mountain Lion Improves Upon Lion

If you, like me, can’t concentrate on anything but Apple’s Mountain Lion release, then you will want to read some solid articles pertaining to the new Mac OS. The most notable I’ve read thus far is from Shawn Blanc.

In his article he points out many of the little tweaks in Mountain Lion that make it enjoyable and superior to the previous Mac OS called Lion. Here is my favorite of his remarks:

The keyboard shortcut for “Save As” is back, but it’s different. Apple says: Use Command-Shift-Option-S to save a document using a different name and location.

See? Apple fixes their mistakes. It’s the little things that add up to make Mountain Lion needful to everyday users. I’ve been looking for a good “Save As” shortcut since the day I installed Lion. 

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Bloomberg Reports Long-awaited Changes are Coming to iTunes

Apple Inc. (AAPL) plans an overhaul of iTunes that would mark one of the largest changes to the world’s biggest music store since its 2003 debut, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.

Apple will unveil the changes by year’s end, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public. The company will more closely integrate its iCloud file-storage service with iTunes so users can more seamlessly access and manage their music, videos and downloaded software apps across different Apple gadgets, the people said. Apple also plans new features for sharing music, the people said. Bloomberg

iTunes has grown very complicated. I just want to see it simplified and made intuitive again. It might be nice if a few of the features were given their own Mac OS app apart from iTunes. 

Apple Releases the All-New and Exciting Podcasts App

Podcasts app revitalizes the medium

Apple released the altogether new Podcasts app today. This is where podcast listeners may now download, stream, subscribe, or simply manage their subscriptions of all iTunes-based podcasts.

Rumor has gone around that Apple intended to release this new app for about a week. In the beta for iOS 6 it was noticed that Apple pulled podcasts from the Music app where they have been all along. Users of the iPhone using iOS 5 of older have found them in the same place from the beginning of Podcasts on the iDevices. From the looks of it, Apple wasn’t planning to make us wait for the release of iOS 6. As they say, Apple likes to do things differently, so they released the app ahead of the Apple’s culture’s expectations.

The Podcasts app is clever and reminiscent of third party apps, in a sense. It doesn’t feel like something Apple would have produced two years ago for iDevices. It’s look, feel, and function is reminiscent of other media streaming apps like Songza and Spotify.

At the same time, Podcasts is in keeping with Apple’s design aesthetic of the new Music player for iOS. It looks as though the podcast you are currently playing is played on a retro tape player. It looks like something older than a cassette deck.

My favorite feature of the app is looking for new content on iTunes without using the iTunes app. You can discover new content from within Podcasts in a super-slick user interface. It’s a relatively simple (read “Apple”) approach with this new way of sorting through the content available, but its unlike anything I’ve seen in an iOS app before. It’s kinda difficult to describe, so if you’re curious I recommend you just go check it out for yourself.

So, the question on everyone’s mind: is it a good app? Considering that Podcasts has only been available for a few hours, and more than 700 average user ratings give it four out of five stars, I would say Apple has a winner. 

On the Prospect of Getting an Apple Designed Podcast App

Podcast icon or app iamgeIt’s important to keep in mind that, if Apple were to provide a new platform for Internet audio and video producers, they’d likely want to see a revenue opportunity to at least break even and cover the costs of offering a better experience. With Newsstand, Apple got several publishers (including Time) on board with the revenue cut business model whilst providing an integrated solution to the end user. With podcasts on iOS, there is certainly room for improvement — but it has to make sense for Apple too, not just the developers and end users. MacStories »

Good point. Ping didn’t necessarily make money for Apple though. I know it’s not been a huge hit, but what if it were? Ping ultimately pointed back to their music for sales in iTunes, but those are indirect sales at best.

For podcasting, I think it could work similarly. If you discover podcasts, that often means you’re getting exposed to sponsors that sell a lot of apps or movies or TV shows and the like in the iTunes store. So a podcast app, like Ping is to music, could encourage sales in other ways.

Display Recorder in the App Store Rips Off a Jailbreak App

The Display Recorder iconThe strangest thing happened on the App Store yesterday, and not many are reporting the story. But since I’ve had a history with this sort of app, and the very issues behind it’s release (or non-release), let me tell you what’s happened.

Apple has a policy in their licensing agreements (according to several sources that I have not checked into but I believe are legit) that prohibits the sale or use of a video screen capture app on iDevices. Meaning, you cannot record what you are doing in apps on an iPhone or iPad with Apple’s sanction.

Even so, the Cydia Jailbreak community has sold many apps for a few years that offer screen recording.

Herein lies the strange part. Apple started selling Display Recorder; app in their App Store that not only captures video of what you are doing in most any app, but by all code and interface appearances, it’s a relatively simple rip-off of an app that’s been for sale on Cydia. The version on the App Store and Cydia app store are by two different developers that are unaffiliated.

So here is what we have:

  • Apple licensing agreements forbid the use or sale of display recorder apps in the App Store.
  • Apple’s App Store is selling one anyway.
  • This app is a significant copy of another developer’s work, so it is most likely violating copyright—even the name of the two apps are the same.

I purchased the Display Recorder app on the Cydia store about a year ago. I jailbroke my iPod Touch I had at the time, and experimented with apps of interest to me Cydia had to offer. I ultimately decided jailbreaking my devices was too time-consuming, so I don’t plan to do it again. But while the Touch I had was jailbroken, I thought the screen capture app was one of the most handy apps to be had outside of the App Store. I made some iOS game demos for my friends to watch. Otherwise, it would have been difficult to share the game play with them.

I trust Apple has made sense of this situation. They shouldn’t stay quiet about the issue, considering it violates their own licensing. I think that in the least, Display Recorder will be pulled from the App Store in the coming weeks. Even if Apple’s policy is changing so users may screen record, Display Recorder is still a clear rip-off of Display Recorder.

the 30/30 app iconPay What You Will for the 30/30 iOS App

The app itself is a timer app, used to set timers for activities. Similar to the minutes prescribed in the Pomodoro technique, except 30/30 allows a range of timing. The app is free to download, as the payment is up to you.”

Checkout 30/30 online in the App Store »

I never thought I’d live to see the day (I’m being facetious). Actually, this makes perfect sense. It’s another smart way developers can get around the apparent limitations in the App Store’s payment system.