- iPhone 5 vs. Nexus 4: Which one should you get?
- Campfire vs. Glassboard vs. HipChat: group chat apps for iPhone shootout!
- Employees film themselves throwing, dropping, iPads at Kentucky Walmart [NSFW-L]
- iPhone 5, iPod touch 5 touchscreens responding oddly to multiple, rapid diagonal swipes
- Angry Birds Star Wars review
- Deal of the Day: 60% off the Amzer Shellster ShellCase with Holster for iPhone 5!
- Apple donates $2.5 million to the American Red Cross, Hurricane Sandy relief efforts
- AT&T offering a $100 discount off iPad purchases with a two year data plan
- MacBreak Weekly 324: I Cry With Jony
Posted: 09 Nov 2012 12:48 PM PST
Apple has released the taller, thinner, faster, lighter, brighter iPhone 5 and now Google has struck back with the LG Nexus 4. So what's a gadget geek to do? Apple owns the patent (we think maybe literally...) on elegant, futuristic hardware, consumer-friendly software, and the top content service in the world. Google and LG have brought almost every spec you can imagine (and a few you couldn't!), have the most powerful, customizable software, and the best internet services on the planet. How can you possibly decide between them?
Let's take a look...!
Google/LG Nexus 4
LG starts the Nexus 4 off with a massive 4.7-inch IPS display at 768x1280. That's essentially 720p with its belt let out. The sides are soft-touch, and the back is fully decked out in something called Crystal Reflective Process, which makes it look like you're holding a star field in your hand. There's an 8 megapixel, 1080p camera on back that shames the rather poor shooter on Samsung's last-generation Galaxy Nexus, and a 1.3 megapixel, 1080p camera on the front. A monstrous Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor powers the whole thing, but while it has all the usual Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC radios you'd expect, so far there's absolutely no LTE version in sight.
Android 4.2 shares the same Jelly Bean code name as it's predecessor, but comes with a few great new features like Photosphere which wraps panoramas around you. There's also be lock screen widgets, an improved Gmail app, fast access to radio toggles, and since it's a Nexus, easy access to developer settings. That goes along with all the other marquee Jelly Bean features like the Google Now voice assistant and actionable notifications. Pretty much everything that makes Android so powerful, flexible, and customizable.
In the Nexus 4 review Phil Nickinson of Android Central summed it up like this:
The Nexus 4 comes in 8 and 16GB versions. If you buy it direct from Google, you can get it unlocked for $299 or $349. If Google doesn't sell (read: subsidize) it in your area, however, you're looking a paying a bunch more.
Apple iPhone 5
The iPhone 5 has a newly re-designed unibody aluminum chassis to allow for a bigger 4-inch screen in a phone that's 12% smaller by volume. It's taller but not wider, thinner and also lighter. That 4-inch screen also uses in-cell technology to combine the touch sensor right into the LCD. At 1136x640 and 326ppi, it's still backlit LED, and still IPS, and technically the best, most advanced panel on the planet for now. Apple also rolled their own, manually-set Apple A6 processor this time, based on ARM v7s, for amazing performance and excellent power management. There's still no NFC, but there is CDMA, HSPA, and international LTE.
iOS 6 comes loaded on the iPhone 5, and includes a new, controversial Maps app, some great extensions to Siri, deep Facebook integration, Passbook, and enhancements to FaceTime, Mail, Safari, Photo Stream, Panorama, and Accessibility. And because Apple makes both the hardware and the software, there's no integration, no added interface layers, and a seamless experience overall.
iTunes has the biggest international content footprint, so if you're into buying your music, TV, and movies, there's a better chance Apple will take your money than anyone else. They also have the free iCloud service for backup, restore, and sync, as well as Apple Retail Stores with Genius Bars which, if you ever break your phone, you'll absolutely consider a killer service.
In the iPhone 5 review, I summed it up as follows:
The iPhone 5 comes in 16, 32, and 64GB versions. The price on-contract is $199, $299, and $399, unlocked and off-contract is $650, $750, and $850.
Apple iPhone 5 vs. Google/LG Nexus 4: The bottom line
The story of iPhone and Android is one of those classics that just seems to keep getting remade. It's one of precision vs. power, elegance vs. enormity, usability vs. customizability, and Apple's ecosystem vs. Google's ecosystem.
The Nexus 4, if you have a Google Play Store in your country and can buy it directly, is the best bang for the buck in high-end smartphones these days. However, it won't come with more than 16GB of storage, and it won't come with LTE. (And don't let them fool you, I get 50Mbps down at the local coffee shop, HSPA+ is lucky to get half that.) As of right now, however, the Nexus 4 is pretty much the ultimate geek/tweaker phone.
The iPhone 5 is more expensive, but it's also built, glitter aside, like nothing else on the planet. You can get it with up to 64GB of storage and with LTE in most places that have LTE. And for most people, most of the time, iOS and everything that comes with it remains the best choice. The iPhone 5 is still king of the mainstream.
The old cliche remains true. If you want something that works the way you want it, get the Nexus 4. If you want something that just works, get the iPhone 5.
Need more help choosing between the iPhone 5 and the Nexus 4? Here's where you can have your questions answered!
Posted: 09 Nov 2012 10:18 AM PST
Your iPhone is a great tool for helping you get things done and group chat services are no exception. Whether you want to keep up with work topics and check in with colleagues, or keep the whole family connected at home or on a trip, a good, private social network can be invaluable. Campfire, Glassboard, and HipChat are three popular group chat services that also happen to have iPhone app counterparts. The question is, which one is best for you?
Campfire vs. Glassboard vs. HipChat: User interface & design
Campfire's official app is simple enough to navigate through and start using right out of the gate. Upon launching the app you'll be asked to sign into your 37Signals account. Once you've done that you'll be taken to a lobby where you can see all the networks and rooms you currently belong to. Underneath the room title you can see how many people currently occupy it. You can tap into the room you'd like to join and you'll be taken to the chat area.
Inside the main chat area, almost the entire window will be taken up with conversation. Along the bottom you'll find the usual suspects including a place to type your message, send it, and a button to append a photo or video to your message. Basically, if you've ever sent a text or iMessage from your iPhone, you'll be perfectly at home. It's simple but it gets the job done.
Once inside any room you can tap the info button in the upper right hand corner in order to view more information on the current room. From here you can add a topic and turn in-app notifications on. Underneath that you have the option to leave the room, view who's currently in it, and what files have been recently uploaded. Tapping on any file name will show you the image or file.
You can access Campfire's main settings from the lobby area. Tapping the gear in the upper right hand corner gives you a few more options including if you want Campfire to remember the last room you entered and take you immediately there, enabling or disabling landscape support, and enabling messaging notifications by default. Beyond this, there isn't too much in the way of basic functionality to change. While the native Campfire app doesn't give you a ton of options, it gets the job done and while on the go, it's easy to just pop in and quickly see what's going on.
Upon launching Glassboard's app and signing in, you'll notice that your main view combines all your boards (rooms) together. If you prefer views of your boards separately, you can tap on the menu button in the upper left hand corner to pull out the main navigation. From here you'll be able to see all the boards you belong too and settings for them. Tap a board to open it.
Underneath boards on the main menu you've got options to edit and view your own profile, as well as change some in-app settings. Glassboard for iPhone supports quiet hours so if you don't want to be bothered with notifications during certain hours, you can disable them easily within settings one time and Glassboard will abide by it indefinitely.
You'll also be able to add people to boards you manage via the main menu or enter invitation codes to join other's boards. The last option in the main menu allows you to filter only photos and videos people have posted which is nice if you're looking for a specific file that a colleague has posted.
The last option in Glassboard's main menu is for notifications and this does exactly what you'd expect it to do, aggregate all your notifications for all your boards in one place for easy review.
Upon launching HipChat for iPhone you'll be presented with a cleanly laid out screen that has two sections - rooms and people. Anyone you've added on HipChat shows up under people while any room you've joined shows up on the top. Along the top you can search for contacts while along the bottom you'll see three tabs - lobby, chats, and settings. These tabs remain static throughout the entire app for easy access.
Tapping into a room will bring up the main chat area. This is where you can see many similarities to Campfire. The chat room is very basic and only consists of conversation content and an area to send your messages. In this case, simplicity is better than too many confusing features.
From the main menu you can also choose to tap on any person's name and send them a personal message outside of a main room. You'll see an icon next to their name showing their status. A mobile phone indicates that they are online from their device while a green bubble means online on a computer and grey means offline.
Tapping on the chats tab in the bottom will show you any conversations and rooms that you currently have active. You can tap into any one of them to be directed to that room or private chat.
The last tab is the settings tab which lets you customize certain aspects of HipChat. Among the things you can customize in settings includes push notifications, sounds and alerts, and your account information. Beyond that, there really isn't too much to customize.
When it comes to user interface and design, HipChat is a nice compromise. It isn't as complicated as Glassboard's sidebar, yet not as bare-bones as Campfire.
Campfire vs. Glassboard vs. HipChat: Message boards, chats, and more
Campfire utilizes rooms where you can chat with colleagues and co-workers. Once you log in to Campfire you can choose the room you'd like to access via the lobby. Tapping into any one of them will bring you directly into live chat. From here you can upload images and messages.
Campfire doesn't offer private chats between users, so if that's a feature you'd like to have, you'll need to look elsewhere. Campfire for iPhone is as simple as the web service. It is meant to be used for basic chats and image sharing between users, nothing more and nothing less. Users aren't limited to the amount of boards they can be a part of, but outside of basic chat, there isn't too much else that Campfire offers.
That isn't to say 37Signals doesn't have many other product offerings that compliment campfire. Their Basecamp service is a dedicated project management service while Highrise allows you to manage all your business contacts. If you're looking for a suite of apps, then Campfire is a good option but if enhanced chat is your main concern, Campfire isn't the best bet.
Glassboard works more like a message board than a live chat room. You can choose to view all boards you belong to or you can view them separately. Once inside a board you'll notice that messages appear in a threaded manner. Any message that a colleague has replied to in Glassboard will show up nested underneath the original message.
One thing unique about Glassboard is that you have the ability to like messages. Once you tap into a thread you'll see a star next to it with a count. The count is how many people have already starred that comment. Tapping on it allows you to like it as well. For office productivity, it's irrelevant how much something is "liked", but if you're using Glassboard for a conference or group of friends, it's a great feature.
HipChat utilizes rooms in the same way Campfire does. On your main screen you'll see a list of rooms and a list of co-workers. Unlike both Campfire and Glassboard, you can chat individually with any of your HipChat contacts outside of rooms. This is a great if you want to discuss sensitive issues, or simply to keep a couple people's personal conversation from swamping everyone else's discussion (notification pollution is a thing, you know?)
There aren't too many options to enable or disable inside of HipChat and like Campfire, it just works once you log in. You can, however, tweak notification settings but you can do that in Glassboard and Campfire as well.
Glassboard is best suited for ad-hoc gatherings like conferences and shows where the social aspects give it a huge advantage. Campfire and HipChat are both better suited for simple work environments, and in that regard, HipChat's private messaging gives it the edge.
Campfire vs. Glassboard vs. HipChat: Push notifications
If your group chat needs include push notifications, you can rule out Campfire as it offers no native support. There are workarounds with Prowl but it's probably past what most users would want to fuss with.
Glassboard and HipChat both support push notifications within their official iPhone apps. Both work extremely well so when it comes to push, it's a tie between Glassboard and HipChat.
Campfire vs. Glassboard vs. HipChat: Cross-platform support
Campfire is a widely known service that has been around for quite some time. That means where are plenty of apps and platforms that support it. First and foremost, it works on the web. There's an iPhone app, of course, but no native iPad app. There are third-party alternatives, however, including Sparks which is optimized for both iPhone and iPad. There are also 3rd party Mac apps like Propane and Flint, if you prefer native over web (and who can blame you?), and 3rd party Android apps such as Campyre.
Glassboard currently offers support for the iPhone, Android, and the web. There aren't currently any native iPad or Mac clients, nor are there 3rd party alternatives.
HipChat's official app offers universal app support for both iPhone and iPad . They also have an Android app, and a native client for both Windows and Mac PCs. You'll need to install Adobe AIR in order to use it but that probably isn't a deal breaker for most [Deal breaker! - Rene].
When it comes to cross-platform support, Campfire is the most widely supported. Not only do they have native versions of their apps on almost every platform, they have a robust 3rd party ecosystem that's filled a lot of gaps. If you need cross-platform options, Campfire offers the most.
Campfire vs. Glassboard vs. HipChat: Pricing
Campfire, Glassboard, and HipChat are all free downloads from the App Store but the app isn't really what you're paying for -- it's the service itself. So let's take a look at the pricing breakdown for each.
Campfire does offer a free plan but it doesn't give you much. You're limited to 4 users and only 10MB of media store. Their actual plans start at $12 and go all the way up to $99. Here's a breakdown of what each plan gets you:
Glassboard also has free accounts and if you're using it for family, friends, or conferences, it's probably more than enough. Paid accounts are $5 a month per user, or $50 a year, and the board limits are determined by this fee. Here's a comparison as to what free vs premium gets you:
HipChat's plans are board based. Their pricing is $2 per user, per board, per month. You get unlimited storage on each board you pay for. Obviously if you have multiple boards, each will require a membership.
As far as pricing goes, if you're only need something for friends, family, and traveling to tradeshows or conferences, Glassboard's free account is great. If you only have 1 or a limited number of rooms you need access to, HipChat offers the most bang for your board buck.
Campfire vs. Glassboard vs. HipChat: The bottom line
Group chat isn't just for offices anymore. Everything from peer networking to family and friends a vying for our personal social attention.
Glassboard has the least cross-platform support of the three apps we tested, and is more of a discussion board than a group chat room. There are businesses being run on Glassboard, but it seems best suited for less formal, more social activities like conferences, trips, events, etc. If Twitter is too public, but you still want to stay in touch with a group large or small, Glassboard is for you.
Campfire has the most support across the most platforms, and if you've got users on iOS, Android, PC, and Mac, you'll find tons of options including third party apps to choose from. 37Signals also has other productivity tools such as Highrise and Basecamp which may be a consideration for some work environments. If you need your chat everywhere, Campfire is for you.
HipChat is the most chatty. While it's cross-platform support isn't as extensive, it does cover most of the major ones, and it offers push notifications as well. Putting it over the top, not only can you chat within rooms but you can chat privately with any HipChat contact as well. If you're looking for a good group and private chat client for your group or office, HipChat is for you.
Campfire - Free - Download Now
Glassboard - Free - Download Now
HipChat - Free - Download Now
Posted: 09 Nov 2012 09:14 AM PST
This is why it's a good idea to carefully check every iPhone, iPad, iPod, and other device you buy immediately after buying it, and to know the return policy of your local electronics retailer. Employees at a Wal-Mart in Pykeville, Kentucky, filmed themselves tossing iPads to each other across the stockroom. The employees failed to catch some iPads, while one was deliberately thrown on to the ground. The incident involved at least four employees, who have since been fired.
While something you purchase might have a manufacturing defect, or have been damaged in shipping, considerable damage can be done by the employees who are supposed to sell you the product. Remember, poor judgement is not exclusive to one chain of stores, so no matter where you buy your electronics, be mindful, and keep your receipt.
Posted: 09 Nov 2012 07:47 AM PST
The iPhone 5 appears to be exhibiting odd touch behavior when it comes to consistent detection of multiple swipe events over time. On an iPhone 4S, you can begin rapidly swiping back and forth and iOS will easily keep pace, scrolling the view to match your mad swiping, even as you start angling towards the diagonal. On an iPhone 5, however, while vertical scrolling remains fine, rapid diagonal scrolling (approaching 45 degrees) will drop off, as though iOS simply tires of detecting the gestures. The issue was first reported by CMA Megacorp on Twitter, noting:
I was able to reproduce the behavior on an iPhone 5 with Mail.app, Contacts.app, and Tweetbot (though a couple of times in Tweetbot rapid diagonal swiping worked fine for without any drop off), Brushes (paint strokes stopped appearing), the iMore app, and more. I was also able to reproduce the same behavior on an iPod touch 5 using the same apps. Various devices were running iOS 6, iOS 6.0.1, and iOS 6.1 beta. That means it's not restricted to one control, like UITableView, or one version of iOS 6.
I was not able to reproduce the behavior at all on an iPhone 4S or iPad 4. That may indicate the issue is unique to Apple's new 4-inch, 16:9 in-cell display devices and/or the software driving them.
Due to the angle, rapidity, and consistency needed to trigger the drop, it's not a problem most apps or developers will ever face. Games and game developers on the other hand, could well encounter it.
Recombu produced the following video highlighting the behavior.
Posted: 09 Nov 2012 06:57 AM PST
After a few weeks of teasers, Rovio has finally released the next iteration in their Angry Birds franchise, this time with a focus on the classic Star Wars brand. Recognizable settings such as Tatooine, Degobah, and Hoth make an appearance, not to mention all of the birds are dressed up as characters from the movies, each with their own signature special abilities.
The controls will be familiar for anybody that has put time into an Angry Birds game. Players have to drag back birds in a sling shot, adjust angle and force, and release in order to topple buildings and clear each level of pigs scattered throughout. Bonus points are awarded based on how few birds are used as well as how much destruction is caused, with a finally tally awarded out of three stars. Each bird has their own unique abilities, which are usually activated with a tap while the birds are mid-flight.
The red bird is able to spin with a lightsaber, taking down structures and deflecting fire from Stormpiggies. The yellow bird is donning Han Solo's appearance, and can open up blaster fire over the course of his trajectory, while the
The only complaint I have about the controls is that the camera automatically pans at the beginning of a stage. If you notch a bird too early, this puts the slingshot out of frame and can cause you to fire a birds backwards, which is just a little frustrating if you've burned up an Angry Falcon.
It's hard to say if the gameplay is still fun at this point. We all know the spiel, and though Rovio has done some interesting twists in the past and are throwing in some new abilities to play with in this go-around, it's the same core mechanic we've been playing for years. The first handful of stages haven't proven to be much of a challenge, but if memory serves, later stages can get quite tricky, especially if the goal is to get three stars.
In-app purchases are employed in a familiar scheme. Players can shell out $1.99 for 20 Mighty Falcons which, as you might expect, summon strafing runs from an orbiting Millennium Falcon. For an extra $1.99, players can unlock 40 levels on the Degboah system, where Luke Skywalker first started his Jedi training in earnest. Many of the missions take a page out of the Angry Birds Space playbook, which makes perfectly good sense. The zero-gravity levels feature lots of cool twists on the old mechanic.
The next update to Angry Birds Star Wars will feature levels on Hoth, leaving players with Tattooine, the Death Star, and ten bonus levels are unlocked individually - 90 levels all told. . Depending how long it takes for the Hoth update to come out, Angry Birds fans will likely have enough to chew on for now, especially if they're gunning for three-starring the whole lot. Generally speaking, Rovio is pretty good with the free content updates, so if you're able to sit tight for awhile (maybe by catching up with the other Angry Birds games), no doubt you'll have more Star Wars fun soon.
The audio is particularly interesting because it's such a mash-up of extremely familiar effects and music. Hearing a the Star Wars theme, still full of orchestral polish, but with a slightly off-kilter, goofy tilt is an interesting experience to say the least. The hollow speaker-borne voices of Stormtroopers are a lot less menacing when they're relaying pig oinks and snorts. The blaster fire sound will immediately cause pangs of nostalgia for those that lived through the Star Wars hay-day.
Although the graphics are still as 2D as ever, there's a nice foreground and background perspective effects, and all of the textures are sharp and well-done. With cache, you'll have under 150 MB of storage gobbled up by Angry Birds Star Wars. Levels are interspersed with comic-style Angry Birds versions of Star Wars events, which are always good for a chuckle.
The bottom line
The cross-licensing going on here may be a bit too much brand whoring for some, but if Star Wars and Angry Birds have anything in common, it's that they still have hardcore fans after being merchandised to hell and back. Even for those of us that are jaded with either family, Angry Birds Star Wars maintains the undeniable charm that Rovio has become well-known for.
If you're absolutely dying to play, $0.99 isn't a lot to ask, and the truly hardcore won't bat an eyelash about spending another $1.99 for Dagobah right away, but personally, I've played enough Angry Birds that waiting for a $0.99 drop and the Hoth content update seems more reasonable. Unfortunately, the game isn't universal, so you'll have to shell out another $0.99 for the full iPhone version, but at least there are a few free versions available to try things out too.
$0.99 for iPhone - Download Now
$2.99 for iPad - Download Now
Posted: 09 Nov 2012 06:56 AM PST
Today Only: Buy the Amzer Shellster ShellCase with Holster for iPhone 5 and save $14.95!
The form fit plastic shell is impact resistant for complete protection of your iPhone 5 and quickly slides in and out of the holster for instant phone access. The holster is lined with a soft fabric for a scratch free device and the 180 degree swiveling belt blip doubles as an adjustable clip stand, perfect for displaying media.
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Posted: 09 Nov 2012 06:33 AM PST
On behalf of its employees, Apple has donated $2.5 million to the American Red Cross to aid in their Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Hurricane Sandy was the largest Atlantic hurricane in modern memory, devastating the eastern seaboard from the Caribbean to the northeastern United States between October 22 and October 31, 2012, causing damages estimated to be in excess of $20 billion, and incalculable human impact. Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, informed employees of the donation yesterday via email. Seth Weintraub from 9to5Mac got a hold of a copy. It reads, in part:
Gail McGovern, President and CEO of the American Red Cross, thanked Apple for their donations in a separate, linked, letter.
U.S residents who want to contribute as well can do so directly via iTunes.
Although Sandy turned before we got anything more than a lot of wind and rain up here in Montreal, several of our Mobile Nations friends and family in New Jersey and West Virginia area were without power for days, their homes and offices flooded, their lives deeply affected. To everyone who's suffered through Sandy, be well and comeback fast. To everyone who has donated, thank you.
To read Tim Cook's full letter, hit the link below.
Posted: 09 Nov 2012 01:42 AM PST
AT&T has announced that it will off a discount off any iPad if you sign up for a new two year data plan. The new offer starts on November 9th and offers $100 off any iPad with LTE. The offer doesn't just cover iPads either, any tablet that AT&T sells can qualify for the $100 discount. Tablets can be purchased at any AT&T store, online or through selected AT&T agents.
This type of buying model is very common place around the world as it makes a lot of sense for carriers to tie you in to a longer term contract. It is actually nothing new and is very similar to buying a new subsidized phone with a new contract. If you are planning on buying a new iPad and will use the data plan over the two year period, you may as well save the $100. If you will only use data on a more casual basis, it may be better to just pay for the iPad outright. At least now you have a little bit more choice.
Source: AT&T Press Release
Posted: 08 Nov 2012 08:35 PM PST
The sensational Sarah Lane guest-hosts for Leo Laporte, who's on the geek cruise down under, and talks iPad mini sales numbers, iPhone loyalty waning, Apple and Intel going to Splitsville, and more, with Andy Ihnatko, Alex Lindsay, and yours truly.
Subscribe or download: TWiT.tv
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