Apple Announces iPad Event for March 7

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As predicted, Apple today sent invitations to the press for its iPad event, to be held on March 7 at 10am PST in San Francisco.

 

 

Specs are still unannounced, but the new iPad is widely expected to have a faster processor, a more powerful graphics processor, and a Retina display to match the iPhone 4S’ pixel density and clarity.

My predictions, in addition to the above:

 

  • Same form factor as iPad 2
  • No 4G connectivity, just 3G, because of persistent battery life issues (hope I’m proven wrong on this, of course)
  • Same pricing as the existing line-up
  • An introduction of Microsoft Office for iPad
  • Full GPS capability
  • Improved camera optics

 

Facebook’s New Sponsored Stories Claim Their First Victim

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Last month, I posted a bit in our weekly email newsletter about Facebook’s creepy new advertising product in which users’ status updates are “sponsored” by advertisers and displayed next to their friends’ news feeds:

How do you feel about your name, likeness, and life story being used, for free, to promote a brand?

Today, The Next Web has the story of Nick Bergus, who unwittingly became a spokesman for 55-gallon drums of lube:

A week later, a friend posts a screen capture and tells me that my post has been showing up next to his news feed as a sponsored story, meaning Amazon is paying Facebook to highlight my link to a giant tub of personal lubricant.

Other people start reporting that they’re seeing it, too. A fellow roller derby referee. A former employee of a magazine I still write for. My co-worker’s wife. They’re not seeing just once, but regularly. Said one friend: “It has shown up as one on mine every single time I log in.”

It’s never not a good time to delete your Facebook account.

 

iPhone Boot Camp No. 2: The Home Button

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With each update to iOS and the iPhone itself, the home button has picked up new capabilities.  With only 4 physical buttons on the entire device, Apple has had to get creative and provide ways for power users to quickly perform routine tasks such as search, app launching, app closing, and more.

With all the new features, chances are you’re not taking full advantage of everything the home button can do.  Here’s a quick look at what you’re missing [note: some of these work on iPad as well, so feel free to experiment]:

 

Spotlight Search

 

From your main home screen (the first page of apps) press the home button to move to Spotlight, iPhone’s system-wide search function.  From here, you can simultaneously search your contacts, apps, music, videos, notes, email, calendar events, text messages, and reminders.

For example, searching for ‘Tom’ will pull up recent emails involving Tom, his contact card, calendar events with his name in them, and my text message conversation with him. From Spotlight, pressing the home button again returns you to the first page of apps.

 

Lock Screen Camera Shortcut & Music Controls

 

With your screen locked, double-press the home button to access a couple of handy shortcuts.  As covered previously, you can use the camera shortcut to quickly take a photo.  On that same screen, you can also control a running music or audio app, including the built-in Music (iPod) app, Pandora, Instacast, and more.

 

 

 

Siri (iPhone 4S only)

 

Press and hold the home button from any screen or app to trigger Siri.  Press the home button again to exit Siri and return to your previous spot.

 

 

 

Multitasking Tray

 

 

From any home screen or app, double-press the home button to bring up the multitasking tray.  This is simply a list of recently launched apps (not running apps!), designed to give you quicker access as you switch back and forth between them.  Tap an app from this tray to switch to it, and repeat to switch to any other app.

The multitasking tray also has its own hidden features.  Swipe right on the tray to reveal orientation lock (to prevent your iPhone screen from rotating automatically), music/audio controls, and a shortcut to the Music app.

From here, swipe right again to access an on-screen volume slider and AirPlay selector (AirPlay only appears if you have an AirPort Express or AppleTV nearby, for wireless music or video streaming to a stereo or television).

 

Force-Quit a Frozen App

 

In the rare instance when an app has completely locked up on you, there is a way to force-quit it and return to the home screen.

First, hold down the lock button until the “swipe to turn off” screen appears.  Release the lock button, and press the home button until the app quits and you’re returned to the home screen.

 

Hard Reboot

 

In the even more rare instance when the entire iPhone has locked up and needs to be rebooted, you can do so with a hard reboot.  This is the iPhone equivalent of holding your PC’s power button in until it completely shuts down.

You should only do this if your iPhone won’t turn off the normal way (holding down the lock button and then swiping the red slider).

To perform a hard reboot, hold the lock button and home button together for about 5-7 seconds.  The screen will go black, indicating that the iPhone has been turned off.  Release both buttons, and press the lock button again for about 2 seconds to turn it back on.  Your iPhone should reboot normally.

Dropbox Updates Android App, Adds iCloud-ish Features

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Great news for Android users who’ve been longing for iCloud’s Photo Stream feature:

Starting today for Android, and coming soon for iOS, the Dropbox mobile apps can automatically upload your photos and videos to Dropbox using Wi-Fi or your data plan. They’re all uploaded at original size and full quality, and saved to a private folder in your Dropbox called Camera Uploads where they’re ready to view or share. Here’s a shot of the Android app in action:

Upcoming updates to their PC/Mac apps will also add the ability to automatically grab and upload photos from a digital camera memory card.

‘Googlighting’

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The war of words between Microsoft and Google continues with this post from the “Why Microsoft” blog:

Googlighting is what happens when the world’s largest advertising business tries to sell productivity software on the side. In fact, according to Gartner, Google Apps accounts for merely 0.5% of the ad company’s revenue after five years of Googlighting. Meanwhile, Microsoft enjoys its trustworthy reputation in the cloud; with 40% of companies from the Interbrand list of top 100 brands.

Then there’s this incredibly cheesy, yet pretty enjoyable, video from Microsoft (hosted on Google’s YouTube, of course):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4EbCkotKPU

These are the latest shots in an ongoing campaign by Microsoft to separate itself from Google in the minds of small and medium-sized businesses.  They don’t want anyone comparing Google Apps with Office, but Google has succeeded in sparking that conversation and getting some traction in the market because of it.

Based on our real-world experience over the years, there really is no comparison.

When Google Apps launched, it was a promising alternative to the Exchange/Outlook/Office empire.  Google was viewed as the plucky upstart David to Microsoft’s hulking incumbent Goliath.  It was exciting and attractive because it was new, accessible, and, best of all, absolutely free.

Since then, most of that luster has been lost for businesses who absolutely have to have a reliable email and productivity solution.  Google continued to push half-baked features and updates out the door, causing bizarre bugs that wasted valuable time for IT departments as well as end-users.  To make matters worse, when there’s a problem, there’s no one to call.  Google never provided phone support, even for the paid “Business” version, until just a few months ago.

Let me rephrase that: it took Google five years to provide basic phone support for a service that they’ve been 1) charging end-users for every month on the front-end, and 2) double-dipping on by selling advertising against the content of their users’ emails.

It seems obvious now: you’re not the customer, you’re the product.  Advertisers are Google’s customers.  If you need support for a Google product you’re using, you’re on your own.  But if you’re an advertiser, you can quickly get your problem solved by a staff of courteous, professional Googlers.

By using Google Apps, you’re agreeing to let Google comb through your emails and other data and sell advertising against whatever they find.  Send an email about an upcoming fishing trip, and you might see an ad for Orvis when you open your friend’s reply.

You may be OK with this, but when your business absolutely depends on email to get things done, can you afford to be viewed by your email provider as the product being sold, and not the customer?

I’m happy to see Microsoft finally fighting back, even though they took their sweet time.  I could be described as an “Apple guy”, but I won’t hesitate to say that Office365 is an outstanding product with numerous features and benefits:

  • Excellent phone support, available 24/7
  • 99.9% uptime guarantee
  • Automatic backup and redundancy for all of your data
  • Seamless, automatic email, contacts, and calendar syncing to desktops, laptops, smartphones, and iPads
  • Works with Macs out of the box (Outlook not required)
  • Web conferencing with live online presentations
  • Group communication with Lync instant messaging
  • Web-based clients that allow you to access all your data from any internet connected computer in the world
  • Complete integration with Office 2007 and Office 2010
  • Flexible, affordable pricing starting at $5 per user per month

Of all the things keeping us busy these days, we’ve been busiest with setting up new and existing clients with Office365.  Please feel free to drop us a line if you’re interested in learning more.