Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Flipboard updates iOS app, revamps Cover Stories to surface cool content

Flipboard, the wildly successful magazine-format news aggregator, has updated its iPhone and iPad application with a pair of tweaks while announcing a redesign of Cover Stories aimed at making your story highlights resemble newspaper front pages. In addition to some bug fixes and performance improvements, Flipboard 2.2.3 now makes it possible to add bookmarks to your Safari Reading List.
Another minor change: you can now copy an article’s URL in your device’s browser, then open Flipboard for the option to add it to your magazines. You’ll be more interested in the redesign of Cover Stories which Flipboard hopes will surface more relevant content from your subscriptions…
The new-look Cover Stories taps smart algorithms which surface content based on how frequently you visit the section. Now key highlights from your subscriptions are presented in a condensed newspaper-like format.
The stories are organized by source, social network and topic, with story groups neatly indicated at the top of each page. If you want to dive deep into the story, just tap the More link at the bottom of the page.
See some flips by a friend you don’t like? Worry not, you can easily mute anyone.
The algorithms adapt to your reading habits so your Cover Stories get more relevant the more you use the section.
Here’s a quick video walkthrough.
Flipboard says the new design is available on iOS/Android smartphones/tablets, with BlackBerry and Windows Phone versions being under consideration. This is a staggered roll-out so not everyone will get the new Cover Stories right away.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Apptray lets you launch apps directly from Notification Center

There have been a handful of jailbreak tweaks released for Notification Center in the past few weeks, but perhaps none more visually appealing than Apptray, by software engineerJoshua Lee Tucker.
The tweak, compatible with all iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices, adds a fourth tab alongside Today, All and Missed in Notification Center for opening apps directly from the notifications pulldown. An unlimited number of apps can be added to Apptray, configurable from the tweak’s dedicated menu in the Settings app… 
Apptray has a few other interesting options, including a slider for adjusting icon opacity and a toggle switch for enabling or disabling the tweak entirely. In order to ensure the security of iOS devices, the tweak cannot open apps from the Lock screen when a passcode is set. In that instance, tapping on an app icon will simply do nothing.
My impression of Apptray has been positive so far, as the tweak performs great on my iPhone 5 running iOS 7.0.4. As a bonus, it even works with themed icons. If you also have an iOS 7 device, Apptray can be yours on the Cydia Store for $1.49.

Aura is an upcoming custom icon theme that supports over 200 apps

While theme makers certainly face increasing challenges because of how iOS 7 is designed, we’ve still seen a handful of great themes for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.Aura promises to be the next. The upcoming theme provides well-designed custom icons for over 200 apps and counting, despite its creators—a five-person group called the iApex Team—stressing that it remains in beta with a lot of work to be finished. Even in its claimed infancy, Aura looks fantastic…

I have been testing a pre-release version of Aura on my iPhone for a few hours now, and my first impressions of the theme are very favorable. Each icon has rounded square edges, with support for all stock apps and a growing number of third-party ones: Cydia, Winterboard, BlackBerry Messenger, Google Maps, and more. The only criticism I have is the red-colored Calendar app, as the day of the week is listed in red text and the lack of contrast makes it hard to read.
I was also supplied with a matching Zeppelin logo for Aura, which definitely suits the theme. According to its designers, Aura has been submitted to the ModMyi repository and should appear on the Cydia Store soon. A sale will be offered in the first two days following the theme’s release, and then it will be sold for an undisclosed regular price.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Apple, Samsung CEOs agree to mediation ahead of patent trial

According to new paperwork filed earlier this afternoon, Apple and Samsung have agreed to attend a mediation session next month ahead of their second major US patent trial, which is slated to begin on March 31.
The meeting is to take place on or before February 19, and is to be attended by Tim Cook, Samsung’s Oh-Hyun Kwon and their respective in-house lawyers. And they will attempt to discuss settlement opportunities…
Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics have agreed to attend a mediation session to be held on or before February 19, as they prepare to clash in court in March over smartphone patents.
Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung CEO Oh-Hyun Kwon will attend the session with in-house lawyers only, according to a Wednesday court filing. Their legal teams had met on January 6 to “discuss settlement opportunities,” the filing read.”
This won’t be the first time the two sides have met to try and reach a settlement. Cook has held similar mediation sessions with Samsung Vice Chairman Choi Gee-sung and mobile head Shin Jong-Kyun, but to no avail.
In the past 3 years, Apple and Samsung have been involved in numerous patent battlesaround the globe. They’ve met twice in San Jose, California federal court, where Apple has been awarded roughly $930 million in damages.

    Supposed iPhone 6 frame leaks: it’s ultra-thin and not very Apple-like

    The notoriously unreliable Digitimes last month called for a larger size iPhone in May and today Chinese website Huanqiu reiterated that an iPhablet would arrive in time for the next Galaxy S smartphone confirmed for May 2014.
    The next iPhone – let’s call it the iPhone 6 for the convenience sake - is generally thought tocome in two sizes, one 4.7-inch and the larger one with a phablet-grade screen measuring a whopping 5.7 inches diagonally.
    And now, images of an alleged frame have appeared online to suggest a notably thinner appearance compared to the current-generation iPhone 5s. Could this part be genuine? My two cents are right below…
    A pair of photographs seen top of post were posted by Chinese leaker website C Tech.
    Not much to be gleaned from the low-resolution shots other than the visibly thinner frame versus the current-generation Apple handset.
    Bear in mind that in the run-up to the official iPhone 5s announcement C Tech leaked a number of parts which later proved authentic. As for this part, maybe it’s an early trial production part though it doesn’t look genuine to me.
    It could be also an aftermarket component, a hoax or simply one of the parts belonging to an iPhone prototype that never materialized.
    For starters, what’s up with the edges having an old style roundedness to them? To me, this looks like a mid-plate, a design Apple long abandoned in favor of Unibody construction.
    For additional analysis, read Eric Slivka’s take over at MacRumors.
    With that off our backs, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that upcoming gadgets will be thinner than the ones they replace, courtesy of manufacturing technology advances and the ever-shrinking components.
    Much of the next iPhone’s supposed thinness should be the work of its presumably larger form-factor making additional room for components such as the wireless and memory chips, the main processor, the cameras and the battery.
    The media is of course quick to spell doom for Apple unless it jumps on the phablet bus. Take, for example, a recent write-up by Gareth Beavis over at TechRadar:
    I don’t mean to sound alarmist, but 2014 could well be the year that Apple makes its biggest mistake in recent history.
    No, I’m not talking about the iWatch – I still think that could actually be rather good – no, Apple has to, HAS TO, bring out a large screen version of the iPhone or it’s going to really struggle to stay relevant in a rapidly changing world.
    Countering his notion is Ben Bajarin who reminds us Apple hasn’t become so successful by skating where the puck is. “Apple has customers not competition,” he explains:
    Folks claim that because Apple’s competition is doing something that Apple should also or they will lose. Yet what I love about Apple’s strategy is that it is never around what the competition is doing. Apple marches to beat of their own drum.
    Apple has customers not competition. The decisions they make as a company are not based around what their competition is doing but around what is best for their customers. Like it or not, this is their strategy.
    Sounds just about right to me, which isn’t saying that an Apple phablet of sorts isn’t being cooked up in Jony Ive’s kitchen as we speak.
    In fact, when you take into account what Tim Cook & Co. have done last year with the iPad Air and the iPad mini with Retina display, it’s becoming clear that 2014 could very well be the year of two form-factor iPhones, both based on exactly the same internals and design, the only difference being the screen size and price.
    Make sense?
    Does Apple really HAVE TO bring out a larger screen iPhone in 2014 or else…?