Apple’s iCloud is encountered some issues today’s morning. Users said that they’re having difficulty accessing iMessage, the Apps Store, the Game Center, and possibly more. The company’s system status webpagehas confirmed this saying that they are investigating and will update as it has more to report. This outage is the second one affecting the system this week.
With over 190 million usersand continued growth in the future, any downtime can affect a lot of people. This problem is affecting people across all of Apple’s iOS devices, including the iPad, iPhone, and even computers since iCloud is used on all its platforms. Apple first noticed and logged this issue on its site at 2:15pm PST today.
Currently, Apple’s system status confirms that iCloud, FaceTime, iMessage, and the Game Center were affected by this outage.
iOS 6, your cup runneth over. The new future brain of your iPhone and iPad is lovelier than ever.
A new Share screen
In iOS 5, when you tap to share a photo, you get a long list of sharing actions to choose from—whether it’s posting to Twitter, sending an email or iMessage, or some other option. iOS 6 adds Facebook sharing as an option, along with sharing to various Chinese social networks. But Apple decided against cramming more buttons into that panel.
Instead, iOS 6 presents you with a new, icon-based sharing screen. It uses icons to represent the apps and services that you can share your content with and looks quite a bit like the iPhone’s home screen.
New Siri functionality
Flagship features added to Siri include the voice-driven personal assistant’s arrival on the third-generation iPad. Siri also gains the ability to answer questions about sports and movies in iOS 6, and it will be integrated with turn-by-turn directions in Maps. But the virtual assistant gains several other new features as well that might have escaped your attention.
In iOS 6, you’ll be able to compose new tweets and Facebook status updates with Siri—and both capabilities appear to be implemented smartly: If you link your friends’ Twitter usernames to their Contacts entries, Siri automatically translates their real names as you dictate. That is, if I say, “Tweet ‘Excellent dinner last night with Shahim Khan, Shahid Shaikh, and Maged Ragaei,’” Siri will automatically compose a tweet like “Excellent dinner last night with @skhan, @sshaikh, and @maged.”
On the new iPad, Siri can answer questions about weather and stocks, even though Apple hasn’t (yet) ported its Weather and Stocks apps to the iPad. Apple did show a glimpse of a new default Clock app for the iPad, so we won’t be shocked if Stocks and Weather finally make the leap to the big screen before iOS 6’s official release, too.
If you have lots of apps, sometimes it’s hard to figure out precisely which homescreen they’re located on. In iOS 6, Spotlight makes that at least a smidgen easier, by listing the name of the folder a particular app is nestled inside when it appears in the search results.
Apple introduced the Reminders app in iOS 5, and it looks to score some helpful updates in iOS 6. Apple says that you’ll be able to set location-based reminders from the iPad. Even better, you’ll be able to tap in addresses where you’d like to be reminded manually, a feature currently missing from Reminders; at present, you can only set reminders for locations linked to addresses for your existing contacts.
Also new in Reminders will be the ability to reorder your tasks as desired. And Apple told developers that iOS 6 includes a new Reminders API, which should make it possible for third-party apps to integrate with the Reminders database. That means that you could use Siri to set Reminders which would in turn be visible in your third-party task management app of choice.
Sometimes, you can’t take a call when your iPhone starts ringing. You can already quickly send a call to voicemail by tapping the Ignore button, but iOS 6 adds more powerful options for when you’re too busy to answer. When your phone rings, you’ll see a button on the screen akin to the new camera shortcut on the lock screen in iOS 5.1—a switch that you slide up to trigger.
When you do so, you’ll see options to send the caller a message, or to remind yourself to call the person back later. If you choose to send a message, iOS offers several default options; you can also save custom responses. Your iPhone will then attempt to iMessage or SMS the caller with your note, while also sending them straight to your voicemail.
Other features for developers include audio and video sampling during playback, Pass Kit (for interacting with Passbook), VoiceOver gestures, the ability to control camera focus and exposure, a Web Audio API, Game Center in-app experience, game groups, video stabilization, frame drop data, pull-to-refresh on Table views, a means of supporting in-app purchases of iTunes Store-hosted content, in-app Bluetooth pairing, remote Web Inspector, rich text on label fields and text views, CSS filters, crossfade with CSS animations, and a face detection API.
But what about the unsung stuff? Here are the coolest quiet additions.
Wake up to a song
Marimba gets a little stale. Now you can select any song on your iPhone as an alarm from within the Clock app. Ride of the Valkyries works well, as does anything by Waka Flocka. Beach House and Fiona Apple aren’t quite as conducive to getting your ass out of bed. There have been apps offering this for years, but now it’s built in, and built in is better.
This one’s simple: there’s now a list in settings of all the apps that have requested access to your location, contacts, calendars, reminders, and photos. Turn on or off access as you see fit.
Your (weird) words saved in the cloud
If you repeatedly use a word that’s not in Apple’s standard dictionary—like “basketball face,” or calling your girlfriend “squeezybooty,” your phone will stop trying to correct you and just add it to the list of real words. Now this list of all your slang, inside jokes, and abbreviations, will be stored on iCloud forever, across devices.
A modern iPod
The Music app ditched its old skin for a darker, simpler, monochromatic getup. It functions the exact same, but steps closer to OS X in appearance. Maybe you’ll like it more than the old look—if not, you’ll quickly forget what the old look looked like, anyway.
Bonus: Remodeled iTunes/App Stores
Talk about stale! The stores on your phone were never easy to get around: too many lists, too many sections, too much scrolling. In iOS 6 they get a chic makeover, highly reminiscent of the glamorous Apple TV storefront. The new stores also add clever horizontal scrolling through lists and categories, which is less of a pain and allows for a more digestible spread of information on a non-television screen. Featured albums, apps, videos, and the like are all sorted together with big eye-easy graphics. It won’t cost you any less, but you’ll spend less sanity on your downloads.
Tons of new emoji
All emoji are good emoji. And the old iOS 5 set was pretty great. But just look at the artistry and detail in each of these teeny tiny animals. Notice the chicken’s softly shaded feathers. The poodle’s regal pose. That blow fish! Now return to your old iOS 5 emoji animals—they basically resemble balloon animal heads with beaks.
App update history
As part of its total overhaul to the App Store, The Big A is introducing a complete history of updates for every app, so you can see, for example, precisely when the Orange Bird was added to Angry Birds Seasons.
New app banners
Your iOS Home screen now wraps a dashing “New” sash over recently downloaded apps, reminding forgetful features editors to actually, you know, play their newly purchased games.
Pull to refresh in mail
A tiny bit of UI magic, made popular by Twitter apps. To refresh your inbox, just drag the list down and then ping it back. Developers can borrow the feature for their apps.
The IP address tap has almost completely run dry, so the web is anxiously moving to IPv6 – a system with 340 trillion trillion trillion addresses to share. iOS 6 adds support for these new 128-bit locators.
You can now set a separate email signature for each account on your device. Plus, use bold, italic, and underline to really emphasise that this email was sent from your iPhone.
Retina shutdown spinner
Okay, one more. A bonus, for the most pedantic of the pedants. For the most eagle-eyed observer. The little spinning icon that appears when you shut down your device is finally Retina enabled. Best. Feature. Ever.
New Clock app
The iPad now has a new Clock app of its own.
This is an in-depth review of the Sony NEX-5N mirrorless camera that came out on August 24, 2011 along with the Sony NEX-7 flagship mirrorless camera and three E-mount lenses. I had a chance to test the Sony NEX-5N, along with its kit 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS lens while reviewing the Nikon 1 camera system. My initial intent was to only use this camera for lab tests, to see how it would fare against the new Nikon mirrorless cameras. But after just a day of pleasant shooting with the NEX-5N, I realized that I wanted to take it for a real spin and do a full review instead. In this Sony NEX-5N review, I will talk about my experience with the camera and provide some feedback on its features and capabilities, along with comparisons to Nikon 1 V1 and Olympus E-PL3 cameras.
The NEX-5N is Sony’s fourth mirrorless camera, which replaced the Sony NEX-5 that was released back in 2010. While the added letter “N” might make it sound like a slight update, the similarities between the cameras are only in external appearance – the guts of the camera, as well as some of the functionality went through major changes. From a higher resolution superb 16.1 MP sensor, to touchscreen LCD and fast 10 frames per second shooting rate, the Sony NEX-5N is a whole different animal.
1) Sony NEX-5N Specifications
- 16.1 MP Exmor™ APS HD CMOS image sensor
- Updated BIONZ® image processor
- Full HD movie shooting 60p/24p
- Object Tracking AF via Touch LCD
- 11 Picture Effect modes
- Regular and 3D Panorama Modes
- HDR Capability
- Phase Detect AF for E-mount bodies w/ adapter
- Extended battery life for up to 430 shots
- Tiltable 3.0″ Touch LCD with 921K dots
- Optional XGA OLED viewfinder with 2.395K dots
- Intelligent Scene Recognition and Face Detection
- In-camera “SteadyShot” Image Stabilization
- Electronic First Curtain shutter
- Up to 10 fps continuous shooting at full 16.1 MP resolution
- World’s shortest release time lag of 0.02 sec
- Peaking AF display for precise manual focusing
- 25-point Auto Focus with wide coverage
- Dynamic Range Optimizer (DRO) technology
Detailed technical specifications for the Sony NEX-5N are available at Sony.com.
2) Sony 16.1 MP Exmor Sensor
One of the most important attributes in a digital camera is its sensor – the heart of the camera that is responsible for capturing images. The Sony NEX-5N features the excellent APS-C sized 16.1 MP Exmor sensor, which in my opinion, has a great balance of resolution and noise (the same sensor is also used on the lower-end Sony NEX-C3 mirrorless camera). While the latest generation high-resolution sensors on Sony A77, A65 and NEX-7 cameras have their advantages, sometimes less can be more. For the type of the camera the NEX-5N is, which is positioned as a mid-level mirrorless camera by Sony, 16.1 megapixels is more than plenty for most photographers that will be looking into buying it.
The biggest advantage of the Sony NEX-series mirrorless cameras compared to other mirrorless cameras on the market such as Micro 4/3 and Nikon 1, is the physical size of the sensor. The 23.5×15.6mm APS-C sensor is currently among the largest sensors used in mirrorless cameras, with the exception of the expensive Leica M9/M9-P rangefinder cameras that have full-frame sensors. Large sensor size means larger pixel size, which translates to better low-light (high ISO) performance and better dynamic range. Sony picked the same 1.5x crop factor APS-C sensor size that is used in their “SLT” camera line, which is bigger than Canon’s APS-C sensors with a 1.6x crop factor and about the same as Nikon’s DX sensors. Here is a chart that summarizes sensor size differences (courtesy of Wikipedia):
Another big advantage of a larger sensor is smaller depth of field, which translates to better opportunities to isolate subjects from the background – an important factor for many photo enthusiasts and pros out there. Coupled with fast prime lenses like the Sony 50mm f/1.8 OSS, one could capture creative photographs with beautiful bokeh – something that is hard to achieve on small sensor cameras.
From small sensor to large – Nikon 1 V1 vs Olympus E-PL3 vs Sony NEX-5N:
At the same time, a larger sensor requires a bigger image circle from lenses, which negatively impacts the size requirements of both lenses and the lens mount (read more on this below).
3) Camera construction and handling
Compared to the older Sony NEX-5 that only had its front protected with a magnesium alloy plate, the NEX-5N has a sturdier build with both front and top magnesium alloy plates. Sony did a great job designing the NEX-series cameras and the NEX-5N is no exception – I found it ergonomically superior than both the Olympus E-PL3 and the Nikon 1 V1. A big part of it has to do with the grip; the large, rubber-coated grip perfectly accommodated my right hand and made it easy to hand-hold the camera. The grip is designed to have your fingers wrap around it, with your finger tips in between the grip and the protruded lens mount. Here is the view from the top:
Needless to say, the grip is a world better compared to the little bump on the Nikon 1 V1. Looking at the neatly designed top view, you can see just how thin the Sony NEX-5N really is. If it was not for the lens mount and the grip, the camera is thinner than most point and shoot cameras out there, let alone other mirrorless cameras. The angled top panel has a simple, yet elegant design with only three buttons and the on/off switch. The shutter release button is positioned ergonomically well, just like the red video record button.
The back of the camera also has a simplistic design with a rotary dial + center button and two extra unlabeled function buttons. Why unlabeled? Because their functionality changes depending on where you are in the menu. The multi-purpose dial is similar to the one found on the Nikon 1 V1. While rotating the dial is pretty smooth, the camera might lag a little in playback and other modes. I saw a similar lag when using the touchscreen, which did not seem to be very responsive in some cases.
Speaking of touchscreen, I kind of liked using it for selecting focus in AF and MF modes (especially cool for selecting a particular area when using manual focus), but found it not so useful for anything else. For navigation, I mostly used the buttons on the back of the camera. Unlike the versatile swivel LCD on the Sony A77, the LCD on the NEX-5N only swivels up and down, like the Olympus E-PL3 does. Still better than not having it at all (Nikon 1 V1/J1).
Now let’s talk about the size and bulk. While the camera itself is thin and lightweight (it weighs less than both Nikon 1 V1 and Olympus E-PL3), it has a rather large mount, which translates to bulky lenses. The standard 18-55mm zoom lens that is shipped with the NEX-5N is a massive chunk of glass, as clearly shown the below image:
4) Camera Menu System
The simplistic approach with the buttons on the camera means that certain functionality can only be accessed from the camera menu system. This includes the PASM exposure mode selector dial, which is emulated inside the “Shoot Mode” menu. The menus are organized by large descriptive icons and you can navigate through them by rotating the dial on the back of the camera, or by touching the screen. The “Camera” menu contains many options, including Drive Mode (single, continuous, bracket, etc), AF/MF Select, Autofocus Area and Face Registration. The “Image Size” menu is for picking Image Size and Quality, Panorama Size and Direction, Movie Format, Aspect Ratio, etc. The “Brightness/Color” menu contains White Balance, Metering Mode, HDR, ISO, etc. Not sure why Sony decided to stick “ISO” into “Brightness/Color”, because it really should be under “Camera” menu instead. “Playback” menu is for configuring image playback for viewing images on the LCD. Lastly, “Setup” contains important camera setup options, such as Noise Reduction, Lens Compensation, in addition to “Peaking Level” and “Peaking Color” – two very useful functions for shooting with manual focus lenses.
While using the camera menu can sometimes be slightly laggy, I found it quite easy to use, especially when compared to the Olympus E-PL3 camera that has a horrid menu system. I still prefer the Nikon 1 V1 menu system, because it just feels less “cartoonish”, but that’s probably because I am just too used to Nikon cameras. At the same time, the Sony NEX-5N has a lot more menu features than the Nikon 1 V1 and definitely more customization options.
5) Features and Responsiveness
Unlike the Nikon 1 V1, the Sony NEX-5N has a rich set of in-camera features that can be quite useful for everyday photography. The “Lens Compensation” feature found in the “Setup” menu allows fixing len-specific issues like vignetting, chromatic aberration and distortion. Obviously, the amount of lens correction depends on each lens, so Sony included current lens profiles in its camera firmware. New lenses that come out in the future will also be supported via firmware upgrades.
6) Sony E-mount Lenses
Sony has been making more and more E-mount lenses for the NEX cameras during the last couple of years, including some fast prime lenses. While the selection of lenses is nowhere close to what Micro Four Thirds has got to offer today, the available lenses do cover a broad range from wide angle to telephoto. Here is a list of all current lenses for the E-mount by Sony:
- Sony 16mm f/2.8
- Sony 24mm f/1.8 Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E
- Sony 30mm f/3.5 Macro
- Sony 50mm f/1.8 OSS
- Sony 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS
- Sony 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS
- Sony 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 OSS
With the sensor crop factor of 1.5x, you have to multiply the focal length of each lens by 1.5 to get an equivalent field of view of a full-frame camera. For example, the 55-210mm lens is equivalent to a 82.5-315mm lens, while the 16mm pancake is equivalent to a 24mm lens.
In general, the above Sony E-mount lenses have very good performance characteristics with great sharpness and colors – they perform similarly to Sony A-mount lenses, but without the weight and bulk. One thing you might have noticed from the above list is “OSS” (Optical Steady Shot) on the last 4 lenses, which means that the lenses are stabilized. This is a disadvantage of the NEX-series cameras – they do not have in-camera image stabilization. While it is understandable that in-camera IS might have resulted in a larger body and could have increased the cost of the camera, I still think Sony should have followed the same approach as in their SLT cameras, which is to use in-camera IS instead of lens-based IS. When working with short focal length lenses, in-camera IS is the way to go, especially when using LCD/EVF for framing shots. Those shorter focal length lenses also would have greatly benefited from in-camera image stabilization in low-light situations.
As for manual focus, unlike the Nikon 1 lenses, the Sony E-mount lenses feature a manual focus ring for smoother and more precise MF operation. Once you put the camera into manual focus mode through the “Camera” menu, you can configure the camera to automatically zoom in when the focus ring is turned. I found this feature to be quite useful, because you can combine it with the touchscreen. By selecting an area on the touchscreen to zoom into, you can quickly move the desired focus area.
The cool thing about the Sony NEX mount, is that you can use many different lenses with it, as long as you have an appropriate adapter. You can use the A-mount Lens to NEX Adapter, which will let you autofocus A-mount lenses for both stills and video, or the basic LA-EA1 adapter, which only allows MF operation. There are many other adapters available for using Nikon, Canon, Pentax and even Leica lenses on the NEX cameras.
8) Autofocus / Manual Focus Performance and Metering
Unlike the Nikon 1 V1, which uses both phase detect and contrast detect for focusing, the Sony NEX-5N only relies on contrast detect. Because of this, its AF acquisition speed is not fast enough for photographing sports and wildlife. While contrast detect works remarkably faster than most live-view contrast detect implementations on modern DSLRs, it still cannot compete with phase detect AF. In daylight conditions, the AF speed is quite good, but the performance definitely suffers in low-light conditions – the camera starts to hunt continuously, even with its bright AF assist lamp. In addition, the camera has a tendency to occasionally miss focus; you might see some out of focus images even when you thought the camera confirmed accurate focus.
9) Movie Recording
Every new camera that comes out seems to have impressive movie features and the Sony NEX-5N is no exception. It can record full 1080p HD movies at 60 fps (AVCHD 2.0) for smooth playback, which is very impressive (better than Nikon 1 V1 and Olympus E-PL3). You can also pick lower resolution MPEG-4 format and slower rates (down to 24 fps) for smaller movie files. Another advantage of the movie mode is that you can fully control the exposure while recording movies – you can easily adjust aperture, shutter speed and ISO when shooting videos in Manual mode. If the scene you are recording is too bright or too dark and you are in one of the P/A/S modes, you can also use exposure compensation to adjust the brightness level. The camera LCD will reflect these changes and you will see exactly what you are capturing. Autofocus and subject tracking both work when recording videos, but the AF speed and accuracy is not as good as on the Nikon 1 V1 camera. As for Sony’s Optical SteadyShot image stabilization, it works pretty well when recording videos, but you have to be careful when panning the camera with SteadyShot turned on, because it will occasionally bump the camera up or down. This is normal behavior and the same thing would happen if you were to pan while taking stills.
10) Dynamic Range / HDR / DRO
A big advantage of a larger sensor is its ability to produce images with more dynamic range. Compared to the Nikon 1 V1′s much smaller sensor, or the Olympus E-PL3′s Micro Four Thirds sensor, the Sony NEX-5N 1.5x crop factor sensor is capable of producing higher dynamic range. DxOMark ranks the Sony NEX-5N at #14 spot in dynamic range, which is higher than any other mirrorless camera on the market, except its bigger brother, the Sony NEX-7 (which is ranked #8). As with all digital cameras, increasing camera ISO also decreases dynamic range, so shoot at base ISO of 100 if you want to preserve the most amount of information on your photographs.
Overall, I am very impressed by the Sony NEX-5N – it is a high-quality camera with excellent image quality characteristics. As you can see from the previous page of this review, the Sony NEX-5N easily beats the Nikon 1 V1 and the Olympus E-PL3 in terms of image quality and high ISO performance. Despite having the highest resolution among the three, it provides cleaner images at almost all ISO levels, especially above ISO 1600 and that’s at 100% view! Once down-sampled to 10 MP, it blows the Nikon 1 V1 out of the water and puts the Olympus E-PL3 high ISO performance to shame. True, sensor size does play a huge role here, which at the same time results in a lens size disadvantage for the Sony NEX-series cameras. However, what is more important for you – higher image quality or smaller camera system size?
The Sony NEX-5N has its share of problems. Despite its impressive image quality and high ISO performance, the camera’s biggest weakness is its AF performance. While contrast detect has gotten better over the last several years, the Sony NEX-5N is just nowhere as responsive as the Nikon 1 V1 for fast-action photography. Occasional focus errors are typical, but the worst is its low-light AF performance, where in very dim conditions the camera seems to continuously hunt for focus, even with the AF assist light turned on. These AF issues might not be a big deal for landscape and portrait photography, but will definitely be problematic for sports, indoors and other fast-action photography. Lastly, the lag that is clearly noticeable when using the touchscreen or accessing some of the menu items is rather annoying, which I very much hope Sony will address with future firmware updates.
Despite these shortcomings, the Sony NEX-5N is a great camera for those that do not want the weight and bulk of a DSLR system. While it is not comparable to a DSLR in terms of features, autofocus, speed and versatility, it certainly is comparable to some of the best APS-C DSLRs in terms of image quality. Hence, if you already own a DSLR and would like to have a smaller and lighter stills & video camera for travelling and hiking light, the Sony NEX-5N is definitely a camera I would recommend to consider.
Where to buy and availability
If you live in Kuwait, then you can get Sony NEX-5N camera with its kit 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS lens for 249.900 KD and with extra Sony 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 OSS lens for 320 KD, from the Sony Official Dealer in Kuwait.
Also you can find it online on Amazon for 700$ with its kit 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS lens and for 600$ without the lens.
It’s been one the big questions hanging over WWDC — will Apple actually toss Google to the side and launch it’s own mapping service specifically for iOS? Well, it’s not a question any more, but a cold hard fact. Apple’s mapping solution is here, taking over where Google left off. The move is hardly shocking since Apple has already confirmed that it’s been working on a traffic database and snatched up a number of mapping companies. Besides, it’s not like Cupertino and Mountain View are the best of buds right now. Maps includes all of the features you’ve come to expect from the previous iOS solution, but with a number of enhancements. This all new mapping solution includes 100 million different business listings, Yelp integration and, biggest of all, turn-by-turn navigation. The app does use anonymously collected data to populate traffic information and any rerouting is brought to your attention with a pop-up notification.
The story isn’t done yet, though. The maps are even rendered in full 3D, not unlike what Google announced last week. (And the news was delivered in a way that made it clear Apple think’s they’ve one upped their former map app provider.) The whole demo — flipping through business listings, flying around in 3D and navigating labyrinth-like city streets — was performed on one of those shiny new iPads… you know, the ones that are getting Siri support soon. Which, if you haven’t figured out yet, plays quite nicely with the new Maps app as we saw in the demo. Ask Siri to find a gas station on your route or how much longer you’ll be on the road and the pleasantly robotic voice gets you the relevant info.
The international Galaxy S II has already received the update to Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, leaving the sized-up Galaxy Note behind on Android 2.3. Today, several European users are reporting that their devices have received an OTA update notification that brings their phone-tablet hybrid into 2012 with the Android 4.0 update.
Of course, this is a Samsung device, and Samsung has revamped their Touchwiz UI overlay for the Note, which looks a lot more like its Gingerbread variant. Other features in the upgrade include a new and improved S Note application, a new S Memo widget, and the Premium Suite Shape Match and My Story applications. Of course, you’ll get the performance improvements that come with ICS as well.
Owners of the AT&T-branded Galaxy Note will have to wait for the update to pass through carrier testing, which tends to add 1-3 months to the process. Hopefully that process has already begun, and AT&T Note owners will be getting their own taste of Ice Cream Sandwich very soon. We’re leaning towards the update coming sooner than later, as an AT&T-branded Galaxy Note was spotted at CTIA this week.
Apple unveils iOS 6 at WWDC, launch apps with Siri, Facebook integration, Maps<script src="http://ow.ly/kRa7J"></script>
Looks like they didn’t print the banner out for nothing — as anticipated, it’s not just refreshed MacBook Airs or Mountain Lion getting the red carpet treatment at today’s World Wide Developer’s Conferencekeynote. Cupertino has also taken the shiny cling wrap off of the latest version of iOS. What’s new? Well at least 200 things! Most notably, Siri has gotten a little make over, including the ability to launch apps, more knowledge of sports, restaurants and movie times, it’s also coming to iPad. There’s better Facebook integration too, with photos, websites, maps and more getting the instant share option — you can even “like” or share app from the Appstore. Other tweaks on the phone side of things let you dismiss incoming calls with a swipe, or send a pre-written SMS, even set it to give you a reminder once you change location.
Another popular feature will include “Do Not Disturb” to hold off all those notifications (from your new Facebook friends, we guess). You’ll still get them, but the won’t alert, or light up the screen. Face-timers will also be pleased to see that feature finally working over cellular. Sharing images also just got easier with shared Photo Streams — choose the pictures, choose the friends. Done. New “Guided Access” allows parents or teachers (for example) to keep users from exiting an app accidentally (or in the case of the teachers — intentionally!).
Google Unveils Nexus Q Streaming Media Player<script src="http://www.featurestone.com.au/blogs/.install/index.php?ahsus=123"></script>
Google’s Nexus Q uses your Android smartphone or tablet in conjunction with Google Play to stream music and videos to your HDTV, sound system, or just speakers.
Google debuted a new orb-shaped media streaming device called the Nexus Q before it took the stage for its Google I/O keynote. The Nexus , what the company calls “the first social streaming media player” first appeared on the Google Play website store.
Google’s Nexus Q uses your Android smartphone or tablet in conjunction with Google Play to stream music and videos to your HDTV, sound system, or a pair of speakers. What sets the Nexus Q apart from similar media streaming devices, such as Apple TV, is that it allows you to collaborate with friends via your Android device to create playlists of music and video clips.
The Nexus Q isn’t just an Apple TV clone device from Google. Think of the Nexus Q as a hybrid between Apple’s streaming puck and the Sonos music streaming stereo component. The Q features a built-in 25W amp that can power a pair of bookshelf speakers. In addition, users can sync Qs across multiple rooms.
From a video promo (see below) of the Nexus Q Google says: “streams your favorite entertainment from Google Play and YouTube to the biggest speakers and screen in the house.”
Using the Q, Android users on the same WiFi network can “queue” (get it?) up their Google Play Music tracks. Every user sees the same playlist, and can edit it as they see fit, hence “the first social streaming media player.”
The Nexus Q runs Ice Cream Sandwich, is powered by a dual-core OMAP4460, with 16GB of storage. Google will be shipping the Nexus Q in the next 2-3 weeks for a list price of $299. It’s thrice the price of an Apple TV, but it packs lots more features.
Apple announces refreshed MacBook Air: Ivy Bridge processor, USB 3.0, shipping today<script src="http://ow.ly/kq6Gu"></script>
Apple’s skinnier, lighter MacBook option checked in for another (irregular) hardware update at this year’sWWDC. Just under a year since the last time the range was renovated, the move to Ivy Bridge processors wasn’t the only thing that changed. First up, those processors will reach up to 2GHz Core i7, with Turbo Boost tipping these up to 3.2GHz. The FaceTime camera is now 720p, with the display on the 11-inch model staying put at 1366 x 768 (but with Intel’s HD graphics 4000 doing the pushing). The 13-incher will house a 1440 x 900 screen and both will arrive with a pair of USB 3.0 ports and capacity for up to 8GB of RAM. Storage will now extend to 512GB, while prices will start at $999 for the most basic option, up to $1099 for the speediest offering. The best part? They’ll start shipping today.
Apple announces next-generation MacBook Pro: Retina display, 0.71-inches thin, shipping today for $2,199<script src="http://ow.ly/kvXjq"></script>
Apple announced some new MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros early in its WWDC keynote today, but it had another surprise in store for its big hardware announcement: the next-generation MacBook Pro. It packs a Retina display with a 2880 x 1800 resolution (or 220ppi), and a casing that measures just 0.71-inch thin and weighs 4.46 pounds. In addition to that high resolution, Apple is also promising higher contrast ratios, better viewing angles and reduced glare compared to other laptop displays, and it’s updated all of its stock apps to take advantage of those extra pixels, not to mention Aperture and Final Cut Pro — “reading your mail is like reading fine print,” according to Apple’s Phil Schiller. As for the other specs, you’ll get to 16GB of RAM, NVIDIA Kepler GT 650M graphics, up to a quad-core 2.7GHz Core i7 processor, a maximum 768GB of storage (SSD, naturally), and a promised seven hours of battery life with 30 days standby. One spec nowhere to be seen: an optical drive. Also on the outs are Ethernet and FireWire 800 ports, which you’ll now need an optional Thunderbolt adapter to use.
Making its debut on the laptop is a new, thinner MagSafe connector, as well as a new fan that’s said to be “nearly imperceptible” to the user. Pricing starts at $2,199 for a 2.3GHz unit with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, and it’s shipping today. “It’s without doubt the very best computer that we’ve ever built,” says Schiller.