DoubleTwist is a universal media hub that is now available as a public beta for Mac OS X. DoubleTwist is like iTunes except it works with not just iPhones and iPods but also with other portable media players.
Not only will DoubleTwist transfer the media to your player for you but it is also capable of converting nearly any video format to the correct format for your device.
The only thing I would suggest to the developers of DoubleTwist is that I don’t want to have to drag and drop media to my device, I would rather set a list of parameters based on ratings, how recent it was last played, etc. and have DoubleTwist transfer it for me. Essentially I want a true iTunes alternative.
Apple has announced a public beta of Safari 4 for both Windows and Mac. Apple says there are 150 new features in the browser. I haven’t read through all of the features because that would take a lot of time and since browsers aren’t the most interesting of applications it would also be a little boring (but if you would like to they are all listed here).
The first feature you will probably see when you open up Safari is “Top Sites.” Top Sites is essentially a homepage showing you your 12 most visited web sites, which are automatically generated by Safari.
Apple has also decided to go along with the trend of putting the tab bar above the address bar. I’m still unsure as to whether or not I prefer the tab bar above the address bar or not but I do understand that it saves room and the way Apple has done it does look incredibly slick.
Apple also claims that Safari 4 is faster then any other browser out there. I have heard from others though that Chrome might actually be faster in the real world but according to the tests Apple did, Safari 4 is faster.
Safari 4 now has the ability to not only increase the font size on a web page but also increase the size of the images on the page.
Apple has added a “Smart Address Field” which offers suggestions for you from your browsing history and bookmarks.
Apple has done a very impressive job with Safari 4, they look like they are on the path of a slower release cycle but when they do release they push out a huge list of features making them one of (if not the) best browsers available.
But, I still won’t be making the switch from Safari, I do only have one reason I’m not switching. The reason I’m not switching is that Safari 4 doesn’t have an option to force links that would normally open in new windows, to open in new tabs. This is especially frustrating when I use Google Reader and try to use the “v” shortcut to open the currently highlighted item on its website, in Safari it opens a new window, in Firefox it opens a new tab and that is how it should be. Apple, please add this seemingly simple feature, it’s the only one keeping me from switching.
The developers who have been working on Chrome over at Google have shifted gears from layout tests and WebKit compatibility to getting the user interface up and running on the Mac. Over the past few weeks the team working on the project have improved the code to the point where they have a fairly well running Cocoa UI and on top of that the app in its current stage will actually let you open and close tabs, which also opens and closes processes which the developers can watch happen using Activity Monitor.
Google has come along way with Chrome and although it might not ever get me to switch from Firefox I will sure be glad to have another competitor in the browser space, even if it only makes other broswers faster at rendering (but I would rather have web pages render faster than have a feature race).
“While we aren’t sure what the specific issues are, we’ve heard that as an alternative Apple is considering allowing apps to run as user selectable background processes. If so, this feature would likely come in the rumored iPhone 3.0 software update but would be limited to only one or two processes on current hardware. The next generation iPhone, however, would likely see less restricted background process support due to its improved hardware.”
So if it is user selectable I wonder if Apple will require developers to (if they want to have a background app) allow users to choose whether they want it running the background when closed and if not the app will save whatever your doing when the home button is pressed.
This seems like a very viable solution and I’ve often wondered why Apple didn’t just have a limit on the number of apps you can have running in the background at a time. 2 Would probably be a good number of apps and the way they would be selected would be just to have the most recent two apps that were opened be the background apps.
Some references to the long rumored Google service “GDrive” have appeared in a file used by Google Pack. The file categorizes GDrive as a Online file backup and Storage service and has the following description:
“GDrive provides reliable storage for all of your files, including photos, music and documents. GDrive allows you to access your files from anywhere, anytime, and from any device – be it from your desktop, web browser or cellular phone.”
This is some pretty hard evidence that GDrive is indeed a reality but truthfully other than the fact that it will be done in Google’s own style the service will really only be an online storage service.
Currently the online storage service is chock full of competitors and even though Google will come in a bully them around a bit there is no indication to me that Google will do it right. To have a great online storage service you need to have some sort of desktop app. I can’t think of a single desktop application from Google that I would actually install on my computer. The only app that is even worth looking at is Picasa, but that is only because in the Windows world there aren’t any good free photo management applications and Picasa is the best option.
I know that everyone wants to look at Google as this big friendly company that can do no wrong but from what I can see, the only services that they built themselves that are worth using is their search engine and Gmail, everything else that I use (and probably most of you use) are apps that Google acquired.
I hope that Google can get it right, I really do, but from my perspective there really are no indications that they can do it.
One of the worries many big game developers have had about the iPhone is that they can’t put enough money into a game to make it good because unless they sell it at $1-3 it will get lost in the shuffle.
Apple may have found a solution to that problem however. PocketGamer.biz is reporting that Apple is planning on introducing a new section to the App Store with premium game titles priced at $19.99. The developers of those games would be hand picked by Apple and the games themselves would be of “PSP-quality.”
PocketGamer’s sources didn’t have any information as to when this new section would be implimented but WWDC seems to be a fairly logical announcement venue.
Not only will this convince some big developers to invest more money into game development but it would also indicate that Apple has been listening to criticisms about the problem with low priced iPhone apps.
The one thing that hasn’t been mentioned in all of this is that from a money standpoint Apple couldn’t care less about the price of applications in the App Store, as long as the amount of money spent on apps as a whole stays the same (they still get 30%). The only incentives Apple has for doing this is to keep the developers happy and to keep the quality of applications high.
I do think that this would fix many problems with the App Store but does add another one. How will Apple decide who is going to be in the premium section? I’m sure many indie developers of high quality games that don’t get into the premium section will be pretty peeved off that they are not included. The fact is that Apple isn’t going to make everyone happy with the App Store but this move gives some more indications that they are at least trying to.
If you remember back in September there was an application announced for the iPhone called Podcaster that was denied from the App Store. The developer of Podcaster later released the application through Apple’s Ad-Hoc system essentially allowing him to sell the application without the App Store.
Recently Almerica resubmitted Podcaster, under a different name (RSS Player) and with some slight modifications (he removed the podcast directory from the app). And, suprisingly, it was accepted. The application still does essentially the same thing but now you have to input the URL for either an RSS feed or an OPML file to set up which podcasts it will follow.
RSS Player is now available from the App Store, it is currently $1.99 but the price will be raised to $4.99 shortly.
I don’t know if Almerica (the developer of the app) did this for everyone who purchased Podcaster but he did send me an email with a beta version of the application (a newer version then what is available in the App Store). So, if you purchased Podcaster ou might want to check your email and see if you got a beta copy before you head over to purchase it from the App Store.
Apple has slowing been loosening the restrictions on developers, first they started allowing apps with toilet humor and now they have begun approving web browsing applications to the App Store.
It is possible that Apple has separate internal approval queues depending on the category of application, we’ve seen this same type of grouping happen with the toilet humor apps and now we are seeing it with these web browsers.
Apple has until just recently declined web browser because they offer duplicate functionality to what the iPhone already offers.
This potentially opens the door for bigger browsers such as Opera or Firefox to develop versions for the iPhone, inevitably making browsing web pages on the iPhone better for the end user.
Very odd looking user interface, for the Mac that is. It doesn’t really look much like a Mac app.
We’re therefore excited to announce that we’re bringing the full version of Picasa to Mac OS X. Like its Windows and Linux counterparts, Picasa for Mac is a standalone program that helps you organize photos anywhere on your hard disk, edit your photos to perfection, and then easily share them online.