Thursday, October 31, 2013

New Remote app icon surfaces in App Store’s ‘Designed for iOS 7′ section

Last week we reported that a redesigned Remote app icon had been spotted in iTunes, suggesting that the app would be getting its long-awaited iOS 7 makeover sometime soon. But we have yet to see that happen.
That doesn’t mean we aren’t close though. Today, more evidence of an impending update surfaced by way of a similarly-new Remote icon appearing in the Columbian App Store’s ‘Designed for iOS 7′ section…
MacRumors, who was first to spot the icon, says the promo is only ‘occasionally visible’ on the Colombian App Store. But still, combined with the previous sighting, it seems like a strong indication of a coming refresh.
The Remote app, which iOS device owners can use to control their Apple TVs and iTunes libraries, is one of Apple’s few remaining apps that have yet to receive an update for the redesigned iOS 7 operating system.
Other Apple-made apps awaiting updates are Find My Friends, iTunes U and surprisingly, iBooks. We’ll obviously let you know as soon as these hit. Until then, Remote is available in the App Store for free.

Add a little fright to your iOS device with Silent Valley: Mystery Mansion

Around this time of year, many people celebrate Halloween by watching scary movies, making gory crafts, and playing spooky games. Oh, and eating orange-colored candy, too.
Silent Valley: Mystery Mansion is a hidden objects game from the company that delivers some of the best quality games in the genre, G5. Figure out what happens in this disturbing take of honeymoon horror…
Players take on the role of a new bride, searching for her husband who went missing during the first night of their honeymoon. The only clue that remains is his bloody shirt. Or is it? Search throughout the Silent Valley mansion to find useful items and pieces to puzzles that will help you find the missing husband. Using ancient Indian magic, conjure otherworldly characters that will answer your questions, but create news at the same time.

The game’s plot is the driving force to completing the game. When you find the key to unlock the dresser drawer, what new mystery will be waiting for you? Will the restless ghosts point you in the right direction or send you down a terrifying path to your doom?
This game offers more than just hidden objects scenes of repetitive tapping on socks that are hidden under a bed. It combines point-and-click adventuring with multi-step puzzle solving, and more. The game features 47 hidden object scenes across five deeply integrated chapters, many with different goals to achieve. Plus, use your skills at puzzle solving in 18 brain teasing mini games and earn 10 achievements that post to Game Center.

Players can choose between three different levels of difficulty – casual, advanced, and extreme. The harder difficulties offer less clues and hints, making your brain work harder to solve puzzles and unlock mysteries.
You can download the game for free and sample the first few scenes. After that, the full game can be downloaded through an in-app purchase. The full game normally costs $6.99 on the iPad and $4.99 on the iPhone. However, if you purchase by Nov. 1, you can get theiPad version for $4.99 and the iPhone version for $2.99. That is 30 percent off of the regular price.
Download the iPad or iPhone version in the App Store today and enjoy a frightening Halloween adventure.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Space gray and blue are the most popular colors for iPhone 5s and 5c

This year, Apple is offering the iPhone in more colors than ever before. The iPhone 5scomes in white, space gray and gold, and the iPhone 5c comes in white, pink, yellow, blue and green. That makes for a total of 8 colors—6 more than the handset came in last year.
But according to data from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (or CIRP), 2 of the colors are noticeably more popular than the others. For the iPhone 5s, over 40% of customers have purchased the space gray model. And as for the 5c, blue has been the top pick…
Here’s the breakdown

And here’s CIRP co-founder Mike Levin (via MacRumors):
“Said CIRP Partner and Co-Founder Mike Levin, “iPhone 5S and 5C colors seem to confirm some traditional gender biases. In the iPhone 5C, men prefer the neutral white, and the Space Gray in the iPhone 5S. In contrast, women prefer lighter silver 5S and the brighter iPhone 5C colors. Interestingly, no one, including the women in the survey, appears to want the Yellow iPhone 5C very much.”
A few observations here: for one, it’s not surprising space gray has been so much more popular than gold and silver models, as it has by far been the easiest to come by. In fact, many carriers and retailers still don’t have either in stock, so yes, these results are incomplete.
But blue being the most popular choice for iPhone 5c buyers is more telling. All colors, to my knowledge, have been widely available since launch, so this stat really is about buyer preferences. It’s interesting because most of the colors were fairly close except for yellow.

Nike launches new ‘SB’ app with interactive trick guides and more

Nike has launched a new iOS app this week called ‘Nike SB.’ The SB stands for skateboard, and the app offers up a number of features for those who love the sport including an interactive trick guide, the ability to share tips and tricks, and more.
The app also allows users to play one another in S.K.A.T.E., an offshoot of H-O-R-S-E, which pits two players against each other in a trick shootout. When a player fails to replicate a trick, they’re given a letter. And the first to spell “SKATE” loses…
From the release notes:
Learn tricks, play games of S.K.A.T.E., take part in challenges with skaters around the planet, and chart your personal skate progress with the Nike SB App.
- Game of S.K.A.T.E.: Connect with skaters anywhere around the globe to play a game of S.K.A.T.E. through the app.
- Challenges: Step up to new challenges issued by Nike SB and our pro team to help you keep progressing. Share your footage and have the chance to get noticed by a worldwide audience.
- Trick Tree: Lose yourself in skateboarding’s endless creative process with our extensive Trick Tree, further inspiring you to learn and expand your skills. Learn straight from the pros with never-been-done filming and playback techniques before helping expand the Trick Tree with your own footage.
- Badges: Earn special and limited badges for skating hard, meeting challenges, progressing and taking part in special events.
- My Progress: Use the Nike SB App to track your own evolution as you build your personal profile.
- Need help? Get support at
I’m not a skateboarder myself—I tried when I was younger and could barely go forward, let alone do tricks—but I can imagine this being a lot of fun for those who are. The Trick Tree in particular looks cool, as you can use it to expand on your skills.
And the best part is, it doesn’t appear to be a gimmick. The app currently has a 4.5 rating on over 100 App Store reviews, and launching the app shows over 30,000 S.K.A.T.E. games being played. To download Nike SB for your iPhone, click here. It’s free.

Apple Dash HD review: retro platform gaming is a hit on iOS

If you are over the age of 30, you are probably a fan of classic arcade games like Donkey Kong and Pac-Man. Those are the titles that turned us into the mindless video game addicts that we are today.
Apple Dash HD doesn’t look like the pixelated platformers of decades gone by, but it does play like one. Timing is everything and power ups will give you the advantage you need to get past ghostly enemies…


At first glance, this game doesn’t really look much different than your average App Store release. The graphics are colorful and cute. It could fit into the same design folder as Candy Crush Saga.
When you pay closer attention to the details, you’ll discover that little Dash has a number of different expressions, depending on what is going on. If he jumps, he will close his eyes tightly and raise his arms in the air. If he starts to fall off of a platform, he will get a surprised look on his face and will fling his arms around in circles, trying to catch his balance.
Every piece of fruit bobs to its own beat and the single-toothed ghosts float around, making your life miserable. Colorful sunflowers offer special bonuses to help you run fast or save the bees from their captors.
Each level increases in difficulty so that by the time you are a dozen levels into the game, you are busy avoiding spikes, trying not to fall off of breakable platforms, and doing whatever you can to rescue all of the fruit before you run out of time.
When you complete certain goals, you will unlock new hats for Dash to wear. These hats will offer bonuses like adding 15 seconds to the clock and extending the length of invulnerability.


The thing that makes this game so interesting is that, while it may look like a simple puzzle or physics-based game, it is actually a well-designed platform game that requires expert skills in timing and controls. Players must collect all of the fruit in less than two minutes. That may seem like a lot of time, but when falling off of a platform will set you back 30 seconds, you’ll soon find out that you don’t have the luxury of waiting for a ghost to go past you.
Players use a virtual left and right arrow on the left side of the screen and a virtual jump button on the right side of the screen. The controls work better than most virtual buttons in iOS games. Lag time or a joystick that is too loose for precision timing won’t irritate you. The only reason you will be irritated is by your own lack of abilities.
To complete a level, climb the ladder by tapping the jump button. Then, collect all of the fruit from bottom to top. You must collect every piece of fruit to pass the level. If you don’t grab all of the fruits before time runs out, you will have to start over.
There are colorful sunflowers that offer bonus power ups that will help you win. For example, one sunflower gives you super speed so you can get the fruit faster. Another sunflower makes you invincible so you can touch ghosts, making them explode and reveal the friendly bee that was trapped underneath.
If you do run into a ghost when you are not invincible, it will cover you with goo that will slow you down for a short period of time. While it doesn’t affect your ability to control Dash, every second counts in this game, and the less goo you get, the faster you will collect all of the fruit.
Once you’ve gathered every piece of fruit on the board, a bombardment of apples, oranges, and strawberries will fall from the sky. This is a bonus round where your goal is to try to collect as many pieces of fruit as possible in just a few seconds. Five letters will also fall from the sky during the bonus round. These letters spell out “bonus” and will give you extra points if you manage to get all five of them.
You will be awarded stars for your effort at the end of each level. Stars are earned for completing the level fast, collecting as many pieces of fruit during the bonus round as possible, and grabbing all of the letters. It is very difficult to get three stars, especially when two of them are based on your efforts during the few seconds of the bonus round. If you want to prove that you are a master at arcade style platform games, you’ll be replaying these levels a lot.

The Good

This is a great retro style of game, without the look. Many times, when I review a pixelated game, I hear complaints from readers who don’t like the old-school look of retro themes. This one has a polished look with a classic arcade feel.

The Bad

At the end of each level, your points are tallied. It is excruciatingly slow and there is no way to skip it. I’d really like the ability to skip past the scoreboard. Sometimes, you just want to roll quickly into the next level without losing momentum.


Apple Dash is $2.99. Normally, I would consider three bucks to be on the high end, but this game is worth the price. There are 100 levels across four worlds and each one has a very high replay value since it is so difficult to earn three stars. If you still think that the price tag is too high, or you don’t own an iPad, you can download the iPhone-only version for only $0.99.


If you are a fan of classic platform games like Donkey Kong, you will really enjoy this updated version of a traditional genre. Instead of going back in time with pixelated graphics, this game has a polished look for today’s technology, combined with old-school gameplay. This game is available as a universal app for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Download it in the App Store today. As mentioned above, there is also an iPhone-only version available.

Related Apps

Scribblenauts Remix is a traditional platformer with a colorful modern look. Limbo is a platformer with cerebral, dark imagery.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Best apps for downloading YouTube videos to your iPhone or iPad

YouTube is an endless wonder of video information. You can find out how to make a polymer ring, see kittens attacking babies, and even watch entire movies that haven’t even made it onto Netflix yet (as long as you catch it before the Watchers take it down).
If you are an avid YouTube user, you may be longing for a better app than the official one for finding specific videos, or simply discovering something new. We’ve got a list of YouTube clients that offer better search engines, region-free browsing, and downloading YouTube videos to your iPhone for offline viewing…

MyTube for YouTube

If you want to be able to download YouTube videos for offline viewing, this app is probably the most popular one. You can find videos through browsing the charts and categories list, choose the resolution screen mode, and stream videos to Apple TV using AirPlay mirroring. The categories list has been recently updated with an improved search function. You can also manage your videos and organize your offline playlist. If you log into your YouTube account, you can have your personal subscriptions and feed sent to your iPhone. This app is available for $1.99. It is a universal app for both iPhone and iPad.

PlayTube Pro

This full-featured YouTube client includes lots of goodies. You can download videos to your watch later list for offline viewing, comment, rate, and share videos, and have access to a huge selection of YouTube’s uploads. If you sign into your YouTube account, you can access your subscriptions playlists, uploads, and more. The app features a very easy search engine that allows you to search videos, playlists, and channels. It also supports AirPlay so you can stream videos to Apple TV. You can even change your region to browse videos from different countries. This app is available for $1.99.


This convenient app lets you watch YouTube videos offline without region or network constraints. You can even play videos in the background if you are looking for a music player to listen to YouTube music while you are working on something else on your iPhone. The playback features include shuffle, repeat, and single-video replay. You can watch videos on your big screen using AirPlay and Apple TV with HD quality streaming. It also lets you watch YouTube videos from almost any country. VIATube is designed for both iPhone and iPad. This app is available for $2.99.


Use this app to find the videos you want to see on YouTube and download unlimited clips for offline playback. You can search for videos, channels, and playlists with filters for length and upload date. It supports background playback so you can listen to music from YouTube while working on something else on your iPhone. Subscribe to channels right in the app and view latest videos from your subscriptions. You can discover new videos by filtering categories and check out the “Most Popular” videos. Loop playlists, like or dislike clips, and share your favorites with others on Facebook and Twitter. YouVids+ is a universal app for both iPhone and iPad. This app is available for $1.99.


This app makes it very easy for you to find out the top watched videos in other countries. Select categories from 28 different countries to find out the top clips from around the world. Download videos for offline viewing, watch your favorite clips without adds, create playlists, and share videos with others on Facebook and Twitter. If you want to keep your YouTube activity private, you can lock the app with password protection. You can also search the entire YouTube site to find the videos you are looking for. This app is available for $0.99.

Additional apps recommended 

Do you use a YouTube app for downloading videos for offline viewing? If so, which one is your favorite?

Twitter enables inline images/Vines, adds quick reply/retweet/favorite buttons

The micro-blogging service Twitter just refreshed its mobile apps and the web interface with in-stream previews for images and Vine videos so you can see attached media without having to click the hyperlinks like crazy.
It’s a marked improvement over Twitter’s Media mode that similarily infests your timeline with media previews at the expense of completeness, because all non-media tweets get omitted from Media view.
Additionally, this edition of Twitter for iPhone and iPad includes a set of handy buttons to quickly re-tweet, reply or favorite someone’s tweet right from the timeline…
“Tweet a picture without text, and let the image say it all,” says Twitter.
I’m sure advertisers will be jumping with joy over all-image tweets.
To reveal the full screen version of an image, simply tap its preview in the timeline. Here, a Vine below takes you through a six-second tour of these new features.

It’s worth pointing out that these in-stream previews work only with Vine videos and Twitter images, for now. Should be interesting seeing how other apps react to this move which has given Twitter yet another unfair advantage over third-party developers.
With the groundwork now laid out, you could imagine other in-stream media previews added in the future. I know what some of you must be thinking: if I wanted my timeline flooded with unwanted images, I’d be on Facebook, right? Relax, should inline previews take up too much of your screen real estate, you can always turn them off  in settings, like so.

I’m also liking the quick action buttons.
Unlike Twitter, apps such as Tweetbot and Twitterrific require you to swipe left or right over a tweet to reveal the buttons. This is slower versus Twitter’s persistent quick action buttons to reply, retweet favorite or follow someone straight from a tweet in the timeline.
Also – and I’m not sure if this is the result of today’s update as I haven’t fired up Twitter’s official iOS app for weeks (I’m a heavy Tweetbot user) – the software totally feels fluid and way more responsive.
Really, it struck me as – dare I say – noticeably faster than Tweetbot on my iPhone.
If I wanted to whine about this update, I’d probably note that the conversation line color has changed and how the app inexplicably continues to add a one-pixel white line to the bottom of uploaded photos, which has been ticking me off for quite some time now.
The new photo and video previews are available on, too.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Apple teases next-gen Mac Pro some more with this classy poster

Mac Pro (poster 001)
Apple really means business with its next-generation Mac Pro desktop. The hype machine went into overdrive during last week’s keynote as Tim Cook & Co. resorted to all sorts of superlatives in pitching the computer’s advanced architecture.
We were already shown how the Mac Pro is made and drooled over Jony Ive’s one-off Product(RED) Mac Pro variant designed for charity.
And now, Apple’s attention turns to the people that keep feeding the beast: journalists. A few select writers have confirmed receiving Apple’s cool posters which promote the machine. In Apple’s own words, the ultimate desktop is “the computer we were insane to build”
Writers at TechCrunchCNETDallas Morning NewsTidBITS and other publications all reported receiving Apple’s nice looking poster for its nice looking machine.
The copy reads:
It’s the computer we were insane to build. The one that turns conventional thinking on its head, then kicks the living $#&% out of it. We challenged all our assumptions. Abandoned our preconceptions.
And blew away limitation after limitation. This is the new Mac Pro. It’s like no Mac we’ve created before. And we can’t wait to see what you create with it.
To me, the most surprising bit is that Apple’s marketing actually resorted to the ‘kicks the living $#&% out of it’ kind of language. I think it was a little jarring to see, to put it mildly. I guess only the sky is the limit following Phil Schiller’s ‘can’t innovate anymore, my ass!’ public comment.
Check out a few additional shots below.
Mac Pro (poster 002)
Mac Pro (poster 003)
Mac Pro (poster 004)
More are available on Flick, courtesy of TidBITS’ Jeff Carlson.
Apple is known for treating the media to these celebratory posters on rare circumstances, whenever a  major achievement needs highlighting. Back in July, for instance, the firm created a nice poster to celebrate Five Years of the App Store.
And last year, cherry-picked journos received a poster celebrating a decade of iTunes, along with a little treat:  an iTunes Gift Card redeemable for 100 songs hand-picked by Apple’s editors.
The next-generation Mac Pro is coming in December, as per Apple’s web page. In addition to the usual build-to-order options, Apple confirmed two basic Mac Pro configurations:
• the $2,999 model: comes with Intel’s 3.7GHz quad-core Intel Xeon E5 processor, 12GB 1866MHz DDR3 ECC memory, dual AMD FirePro D300 graphics with 2GB GDDR5 VRAM each and 256GB of PCIe-based flash storage.• the $3,999 model: includes a 3.5GHz six-core Intel Xeon E5 processor, 16GB 1866MHz DDR3 ECC memory, dual AMD FirePro D500 GPUs with 3GB GDDR5 VRAM each and 256GB PCIe-based flash storage.
The system is being assembled in the United States.

Belkin launches new iPad Air accessories

Belkin Ultimate Keyboard Case (image 003)
One of the top accessory makers and among the leading players in the Apple accessories ecosystem, Logitech, today announced four new keyboard cases and covers designed specifically for Apple’s upcoming iPad Air.
However, Logitech’s arch-enemy Belkin earlier telegraphed an announcement of its own. A whole bunch of new iPad Air-specific accessories are part of Belkin’s announcement, including three new Bluetooth keyboard models from Belkin’s Qode lineup, one of them apparently made from an “aircraft-grade aluminum alloy”.
Jump past the fold for the full reveal…
Belkin last week said that three new Qode-family branded iPad Air keyboard covers are now available: the Ultimate Keyboard Case, Thin Type Keyboard Case and Slim Style Keyboard Case.
The Qode $129.99 Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad Air (see image top of post and below) secures your iPad Air in place for prolonged typing periods, but is also suited when watching movies and presentations, playing games and more. Belkin has added magnets to the case which hold your iPad Air in a variety of comfortable viewing angles.
Belkin Ultimate Keyboard Case (image 002)
In case you were wondering (pun intended), the case is made from an aircraft-grade aluminum alloy, has a 264-hour battery, comes in black and silver and can be folded behind the device.
The $99.99 Qode Thin Type Keyboard Case for iPad Air uses magnets to attach to the device, much like Apple’s Smart Covers. It’s also made from aluminum and has similar functions to Logitech’s Ultrathin Keyboard Cover. The accessory will be available only in silver and Belkin claims the built-in battery is good for 79 hours of use.
Belkin Ultimate Keyboard Case (image 001)
The $79.99 Qode Slim Style Keyboard Case for iPad Air adds a dash of color to your accessorizing: it comes in Black, Red, Topaz, Sorbet and Purple. The built-in battery is rated for 60 hours of active use and the case’s single-hinge design with a three-position kickstand at the rear should be appealing to road warriors.
Belkin SlimStyle Keyboard for iPad Air 9image 001)
Check out the trailer for the ultimate case.
In addition to the aforementioned three ‘hero’ cases, Belkin also introduced a few additional iPad Air add-ons:
The $89.99 Apex360 Advanced Protection Case for iPad Air (F7N001) and $69.99 Apex 360 Advanced Protection Case for iPad mini (F7N023)
• Built to surpass U.S Military 6 ft. drop testing
• Reinforced frame creates insulating air pockets for shock absorption
• Contoured outer shell for secure hold
• Removable magnetic QuickStand pivots for iPad Air multiple portrait and landscape viewing
• AutoWake magnets
• Clasp closure
• F7N001 available in two colors: Blacktop and Olive
• F7N023 available in two colors: Blacktop and Fuchsia
• Also available for iPad mini
The $59.99 LapStand Cover for iPad Air (F7N061, F7N065)
• Patented LapStand design keeps iPad steady on lap
• ComfortForm™ material forms to body
• Multiple angles for viewing or typing
• Protective corners and strap closure keep iPad secure
• F7N061 available in Blacktop and Stone microfiber
• F7N065 available in Charcoal, Red, Cream and Sorbet twill
The $59.99 FreeStyle Cover for iPad Air (F7N100)
• Ultra-thin, form-fitting design
• Versatile magnetic QuickStand cover folds over for screen coverage, back for portrait or landscape viewing, or detaches altogether for sleek back protection
• Multiple angles for viewing or typing
• Soft-touch finish
• Clasp closure
• Available in Blacktop and Slate
The $39.99-$49.99 FormFit Cover for iPad Air (F7N054, F7N062, F7N063, F7N066, F7N101)
• Ultra-thin, form-fitting design
• Multiple angles for viewing or typing
• Clasp closure
• F7N054 available in a two-toned palette in Blacktop and Purple
• F7N062 available in a stylish scales pattern in Fuchsia
• F7N063 available in Black, Slate and Lavender
• F7N066 available in a fresh striped pattern in Pink
• F7N101 available in Blacktop and Ink with a single stripe
The $29.99 Classic Strap Cover for iPad Air (F7N053)
• Classic design in a lightweight, durable fabric
• Thin, tailored fit
• Elastic strap closure
• Available in Black and Rose
The $39.99 TriFold Cover for iPad Air (F7N056)
• Soft-touch finish
• Cinema viewing angle and comfortable typing angle
• Elastic strap closure
• Available in Black, Purple and Bubblegum
The $59.99 MultiTasker Cover for iPad Air (F7N059)
• Natural grain leather
• Stylus and business card storage
• Multiple angles for viewing and typing
• Magnetic tab closure
• Available in Black, Ink and Rose
The $49.99 Stripe Tab Cover with Stand for iPad Air (F7N060)
• Multiple angles for viewing and typing
• Integrated magnetic tab closure
• X-frame design with protective corners keep iPad secure
• Pinstripe pattern for contrasting color and texture
• Available in Black, Burgundy and Ink
The $49.99 Dash Tab Cover with Stand for iPad Air (F7N064)
• Multiple angles for viewing and typing
• Integrated magnetic tab closure
• X-frame design with protective corners keep iPad secure
• Dash pattern along spine for pop of color and texture
• Available in Black, Gravel and
The $39.99 Quilted Cover with Stand for iPad Air (F7N073)
• Stylish quilted design
• Adjustable viewing angles
• AutoWake magnets
• Available in Blacktop, Cream and Ruby
These new goodies will be available online through and at select retailers worldwide starting November. The Apex360 Advanced Protection Case for the iPad mini is available now at and select retailers and will be available for the iPad Air in December.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

How iCloud keeps your data safe

Calendar (iPad Air, iPhone 5s)
With the advent of iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks, Apple has enabled even tighter iCloud integration across its operating systems.
A good example is a new feature called iCloud Keychain which keeps your web site and Wi-Fi passwords, login and account information and credit card numbers in sync between any number of trusted Mac, iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices authorized with the same Apple ID.
It’s also another example of Apple’s growing reliance on iCloud. But with great power comes great responsibility so privacy-minded users may ask themselves how exactly iCloud manages this growing mountain of personal information while keeping it safe and secure…
Apple’s had a dedicated support article on iCloud security and privacy up for some time.
It’s been updated alongside the Mavericks release earlier this week with the latest technical information pertaining to the security of Apple’s ever-growing cloud services.
The company distills iCloud security down into this easily digestible chart.
iCloud security and privacy chart
Just a few quick observations.

On iCloud sessions

When you access iCloud’s web apps at through a web browser, your sessions are SSL-encrypted, including traffic between your devices and iCloud Mail and Notes. Any data in iCloud web apps accessed through either the web interface or stock iOS/OS X apps is encrypted on server as indicated in this table.
icloud ios 7 1
The only exception are IMAP mail servers. “Consistent with standard industry practice, iCloud does not encrypt data stored on IMAP mail servers,” the FAQ underscores. If you need an added layer of protection for IMAP, consider using an optional S/MIME encryption which is supported in all of Apple’s email clients.

On secure tokens

Apple explains that accessing iCloud services via stock apps iOS/OS X such as Mail, Contacts and Calendar apps is handled via secure tokens that don’t require your iCloud password be stored on devices and computers.
“Even if you choose to use a third-party application to access your iCloud data, your username and password are sent over an encrypted SSL connection,” Apple details.

On Find My iPhone/Find My Friends

Apple says both features only send your location upon a request. Your position “is not transmitted or recorded at any other time,” claims the FAQ.
Find my iPhone 3.0 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 002)Find my iPhone 3.0 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 001)
Find My iPhone and Find My Friends use a minimum of 128-bit AES encryption.
Last known location data is stored on Apple’s servers in an encrypted format for only 2 hours for Find My Friends and 24 hours for Find My iPhone, and then permanently deleted.
You will be automatically signed out of the app (on device or on the web) after 15 minutes of inactivity unless you have a passcode lock set on your device.

On iCloud Keychain

For those concerned about passwords and credit card information being kept on iCloud servers, Apple is using 256-bit AES encryption and “elliptic curve asymmetric cryptography and key wrapping” to secure your private data. These industry-standard encryption techniques are being used both in transit and in the cloud.
As for credit cards, iCloud Keychain stores the numbers and expiration dates, but not the security codes which you’ll have to type in manually in web forms. Moreover, iCloud Keychain items are not part of your iCloud Backup for the sake of heightened security.
iCloud Keychain (image 001)
And should you want to avoid iCloud Keychain backing up your data in iCloud altogether, skip the step for creating an iCloud Security Code when setting up iCloud Keychain. This will ensure your keychain data is stored locally and only synced across your approved devices. Keep in mind Apple won’t be able to recover your iCloud Keychain if you don’t create an iCloud Security Code.
iCloud Keychain (teaser 001)
The company underscores it can’t access iCloud Keychain encryption keys and stresses they’re created only locally on your devices. “Only encrypted keychain data passes through Apple’s servers, and Apple can’t access any of the key material that could be used to decrypt that data,” reads the doc.
Mavericks iCloud Keychain

Wrapping up

You will need iOS 7.0.3 to use iCloud Keychain on your iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices (Mavericks is required on Macs). The feature is region-dependent and Apple has a web page up detailing iCloud Keychain availability by country.
While we’re at it, do check out Apple’s Privacy Policy that covers iCloud and details how the company collects, uses, discloses, transfers and stores your personal information.
You’ll also want to read Apple’s tips on creating a strong password for your Apple ID account, or any other web service for that matter.

iOS still struggling with Daylight Saving Times as some users are affected with yet another bug

Wrong calendar time iOS 7
iOS is no stranger to Daylight Saving Times bugs. It could actually be considered a recurring things as we’ve seen several occurrences of Apple’s operating system not properly adjusting to time changes in the past, most notably back in 2010 and twice in 2011.
After all this time, you’d think Apple would have figured out how to properly adjust such a basic feature, but apparently they haven’t. Some French users are reporting today that although the time has adjusted correctly to the country’s DST change, there is still a little bug visible in the Calendar app…
As you can see on the screenshot above, courtesy of my cousin Jérémy, the time displayed in the Status bar is correct, however, the time displayed by the marker in the Calendar app isn’t showing at the right location. Simply explained, iOS is showing the right time but still believes it is on the previous time.
It appears that some users are affected by the bug, while others are not. This bug doesn’t appear to be linked to a specific device or software version as some users using the same device on iOS 7.0.3 are encountering the issues, while others are not. Could it be a problem linked to carriers, as Rene Ritchie suggests?
From what we gather, scheduled events are placed on the right time slot in Calendar, and maybe most important, alarms are ringing at the right time, so this might very well be the case of a bug that will again resolves itself out once the US change time next week. If that’s the case, Apple might not release a software update immediately, although I can’t imagine the company not fixing this bug going forward.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

How to get rid of the blur effects in iOS 7

Blur Contrast iOS 7 Control Center
Some of you might already be offended just by reading the title of this post. How dare we share tips on how to remove the blur effects in iOS 7? How can we, in just one post, put an end to something that some might consider the essence of iOS 7? Something that the design team at Apple spent months and months working on. Well, we like options and we also like for you to know that you have options.
The main reason why you’d want to disable the blur effects in iOS 7 is to improve contrast on some backgrounds in order to improve legibility. If you have vision problems, removing blur effects might indeed help you see what’s on your screen better.
Of course, you might also not be too fond of the blur effects to begin with, and this is a good reason to get rid of them. For the record, I find those blur effects to be essential to the iOS 7 experience so I didn’t disable them on my own device.
In order to remove blur effects in iOS 7, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Increase Contrast > On.
Blur Contrast iOS 7 Notification Center
As far as I can tell, the only spots where blur effects are present – and thus where they can be disabled – are in Notification Center and in Control Center. If there are other areas of the UI where blur can be found, I’m sure you will be quick to point it out in the comments.
As you can see from the images above, the changes aren’t dramatic but they are very much noticeable. Control Center will lose its blurry effect for a plain gray background, while Notification Center will gain a black background. I have to say the black background of Notification Center does look pretty slick, but of course, it’s all personal preferences.
What do you think? Are blurry backgrounds enough of an annoyance for you to get rid of them?