iCloud Gets An Automatic Boost in Storage… and Price

I just received an e-mail from Apple indicating that, as they announced at the last keynote, the top tier of iCloud storage is doubling from 500gb to 1tb. I have that 500gb plan, so they kindly e-mailed to tell me my plan would be upgraded to 1tb. However, there’s a catch – the price is increasing from $9.99 to $12.99 per month (CAD).

Apple iCloud Upgrad

That sounds fine on the surface – I’m getting twice the space for only $3/month more. However, there is no option to just keep my 500gb plan. The only option is to downgrade to the 200gb plan, but I can’t do that because I already use more than 200gb between iCloud Photo Library and the documents in my iCloud Drive.

At first I was excited about the increase in storage, but now I’m miffed that I am going to have to pay more money each month.

Weather on the Apple Watch

One of the first apps many people seek out on their new device is a good weather app. Sometimes the built-in app is fine, but often there are third-party apps that offer more features, better accuracy, and more customizability. Apple’s built-in weather app on the   Watch is good, but since my main iPhone app is Yahoo! Weather, I thought I would try out a few apps to see if I could find the weather app for the Watch.

The Contenders

Note: Dark Sky is not available in Canada, so it is not part of my review.

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The Apple Watch is Another Great Opportunity for Apple

They’ve been in this position before, but never quite like this. Next week, Apple will host a media event called “Spring Forward” where we will most likely hear more details about the  Watch and its release. Like several Apple products before it, this watch is not the first product to the market, but it has a good chance of becoming the market leader.

The MP3 Player

Rewind to 2001. There were lots of mp3 players on the market, but there wasn’t really a market leader. Most had Terrible UI, none of them had a good ecosystem, and they weren’t made incredibly well.

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Stop Freaking Out About the Facebook Messenger App

Facebook Messenger Icon

There has been a lot of noise about Facebook’s move to remove messaging from its main app and “force” people to use the Messenger app on mobile devices to send messages. Today, no less than four people on my Facebook feed made proclamations about not using the app. Here’s why you shouldn’t be freaking out.

Issue #1

The first issue here is that Facebook is removing the messaging features from its mobile apps.  Many people use their inbox regularly, and many are still using the Facebook app to do this. Personally, I hate the little chat bubbles and found them intrusive, but I do agree it is convenient to be able to do all your Facebook-related activities within one app.

So, everyone that had avoided downloading the separate Messenger app can it avoid it no longer if they want to perform messaging via Facebook.

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Contest: Win Sneak Preview Tickets to the New Steve Jobs Movie

Attention Halifax (and area) readers: I have a double pass to the new Steve Jobs biopic starring Ashton Kutcher to give away!

The sneak preview screening is at 7pm on Monday, August 12th at Empire Theatres Bayers Lake.

I will announce the winner on Sunday at noon. Please only enter if you are sure you will be able to make it, as the timeline is very tight to announce the winner and get a hold of you!

To enter, you just have to:

  1. Like HalifaxTech on Facebook or follow @HalifaxTech on Twitter. You can also do both of these very easily in the sidebar ->
  2. Tweet to HalifaxTech or post on the Facebook page telling us your favourite Apple product, or why you want to see the film.
  3. That’s it! Good luck!

If you already follow or like HalifaxTech, you’re good to go. Just tweet or post to complete your entry!

As Heard on Maritime Morning: Weekend Edition (Jan 26, 2013)

This week was focused on some retail products, how we buy them, and the volatile nature of Apple’s stock.

Amazon Prime in Canada

First up, Amazon Prime was recently announced for Canadian users on Amazon.ca. $79/year gets you unlimited two-day shipping to most Canadian locales, regardless of the price of the item. That means you can buy a $9.99 CD and have it in two days without paying $3-4 for shipping. No more adding items to your cart to reach $39 and get the free Super-Saver Shipping that takes 5-8 business days.

Light Amazon users will balk, but this could really change how some people shop. Amazon.ca’s catalogue has been expanding rapidly over the past couple of years. You can now grab kitchen appliances, gifts, electronics, and other goods along with the staples like books, movies, and music. Amazon’s prices are often hard to beat, so throw in free, fast shipping, and that $79 Prime account is looking pretty good.

More Information

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The NTSB is Swapping BlackBerrys for iPhones

The US National Transportation Safety Board is dumping RIM devices for iPhones.

The BlackBerrys have been “failing both at inopportune times and at an unacceptable rate,” according to the NTSB’s notice.

9to5 Mac

Yep. I worked in telecommunications for nine months and over that time I could not believe how many BlackBerry Curves and Bolds came back for service. Not with small issues either. Complete failures or unusable devices.

Logic Pro 9 Now On the App Store for $199.99

Logic Pro is Apple’s professional audio recording and sequencing software. Apple bought it from Emagic back in 2002, and it has since become the DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) of choice for many recording engineers. I personally love the interface and I chose it over competitors like Pro Tools, Cubase, and Audition.

logic

Before today, the Logic Pro 9 bundle was $499. The main application, along with the huge library of loops, is now available on the Mac App Store for only $199.99. The MainStage app, previously a part of the bundle, is now available separately for $29.99.

The download itself is just a hair over 400mb. The 19gb of loops are available as in-app downloads. This is a great way to do things. The app downloads quickly, and if the user wants the loops they can download them separately.

The reduced cost is in line with Apple’s other Mac Store offerings, including Aperture (which dropped from $199 to $79) and Final Cut Pro X.

This is a slightly unexpected move, as Logic has not been updated since January, 2010, when 64-bit support was added. Many predicted that a new version of Logic would launch soon. This move seems to nix that notion, unless they plan on offering the new version as a free upgrade to existing users, which isn’t likely.

Here’s hoping its move to the App Store means there are some updates on the horizon, particularly bug fixes and better Lion performance.

iOS vs. Android

Several months ago, I wrote Part 1 of what I thought was going to be a 4-part series comparing the HTC Desire to the iPhone 4. Those other three parts never got written. Here’s why.

The HTC Desire HD was announced soon after that post, so I thought I might wait until its release to compare all three. I also quickly realized the HTC Desire did not hold a candle to the iPhone 4. With such a small amount of internal memory, the phone became very sluggish once apps were installed. The ability to transfer apps to the SD card came with a software update, but the process does not work for every app. There is too much required of the user to move apps and try and clean up the phone’s memory. If you install even just a few apps, you can easily fill the phone and get low memory warnings.

This is the complete opposite of the iOS experience. A big benefit most Android users talk about is the ability to insert extra memory, usually SD cards. Please tell me what good this is if you cannot move all of your apps to the card? I could not use the Desire as I wanted to because I kept hitting a wall with the internal memory.

Though the Desire is a great phone, the limitations of its hardware have really showed. The Desire HD fixed a lot of these problems, but its size and other software and wifi issues have made it a non-competitor as well. I dumped the HD for an LG Optimus 7, and more recently an LG Optimus Black. I still have yet to use an Android device that would really sway me from using an iPhone.

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RIP White MacBook

With the launch of the new MacBook Air models today, Apple has removed the venerable white MacBook from its online store.

It will, however, live on for now as an option for educational institutions, presumably while stock lasts. There is only one model, a 2.4ghz Core2Duo affair with a 250gb hard drive and 2gb RAM for $949CAD. The only upgrades available are 4gb RAM and a 500gb drive.

Screenshot from Apple Store for Educational Institutions

The white MacBook replaced the iBook line. The MacBook line took an odd turn as an aluminum model for a short time before Apple created the MacBook Pro line to replace the PowerBook series.

Kind of strange to have MacBook Air and MacBook Pro without a MacBook. Will either line drop their monikers and become the new MacBook line?

Though the MacBooks had a few issues from time to time, they were huge sellers for Apple, and they have served many people, especially students, very well.

I don’t see the 11″ MacBook air as a replacement though, and that is the only laptop model in the same price range as the white MacBook.

An interesting, if predictable move by Apple.

RIPMacBook

Apple’s Back to the Mac Event – Wednesday!

Several times a year, Apple holds events to announce new products. Recently, most of these events have focused on iOS and its related devices. I’ve seen several people comment in forums and articles about the lack of focus on the Mac and OSX. It looks like Apple has heard some of those complaints. The title for tomorrow’s event is “Back to the Mac.”

It seems Wednesday’s event will focus solely on the Mac, and that’s welcome news to many. The teaser image seems to feature a lion. Could this be the next iteration of OSX? If so, what comes after 10.7 Lion? Isn’t the lion the biggest of the big cats?

So, what kinds of things can we expect or hope for tomorrow? Let’s take a look at the rumours and hopes floating around out there:

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HTC Desire vs. iPhone 4 – Part 1

I have been an iPhone user since the 3G came to Canada in 2008. At that time, there were simply no other mobile phones that could hold a candle to the iPhone. Fast forward to 2010. I stood in line for five hours to pick up an iPhone 4. It is the most amazingly piece of technology I’ve ever used. I was still of the opinion that no one could come close to touching Apple’s stranglehold on making amazing mobile devices.

My opinion is slowly changing. After some failed attempts like the Palm Pre, Blackberry Storm, and the Samsung Instinct, other manufacturers are finally making phones that are nearly worthy of the “iPhone killer” moniker. What has changed? Well, the main reason competitors weren’t able to keep up was because of the rock-solid, innovative iOS that Apple built from the ground up (basing it on OSX). The operating systems still being used in most phones were just too dated and needed an overhaul. So that’s what most companies have done.

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Calvetica – Gorgeous Calendar for iPhone

As a MobileMe user, I rely heavily on the various calendar apps Apple provides – iCal, Calendar for iPhone, and their web-based offering on me.com. All data remains in sync across all of my devices, and I have access to it via the web as well. The only downside to Apple’s offerings are their appearance. They are mostly easy to use and quite functional, but they could all use a facelift.

The MobileMe calendar recently got such a facelift, along the lines of the new iPad calendar app. This is a welcome change, but I use the iPhone app the most, followed by iCal. Using the iPhone app daily has led me to see its faults. Although I am fairly adept at using it, I can’t help but feel the experience could be more pleasant, and faster overall.

Enter Calvetica – a gorgeous app from a company called Mysterious Trousers LLC.  For only $2.99, you get an incredible calendar app replacement that fully syncs with your calendar data.

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