Apple launches “100 Apps & Games” iOS sale: Pixelmator, GoodReader, BADLAND, The Room Two for $0.99

Apple launches 100 Apps Games Sale

Apple launches 100 Apps & Games” iOS sale “At New Low Prices” for your chance or excuse to buy the apps and games you’ve been aiming for. The 100 apps are from all categories of the App Store and include Pixelmator (Reg. $5), Scanner Pro 6 (Reg. $5), GoodReader (Reg. $5), BADLAND (Reg. $4), The Room Two (Reg $3), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Reg $5) and Real Racing 2 (Reg. $5) among the far too many to mention. If you’re brand new to iOS and App Store, check out some classic games such as Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Cut the Rope 2 and Dead Space.

How to type the Apple logo  with your iPhone or iPad

On your Mac, you can easily pull up the Apple logo  character by pressing Option + Shift + K. With Watch and Pay marketing all over the places, you’d think Apple would make it straight forward for you to key in the Apple logo on your iPhone or iPad. Not so. 

Even the default Emoji keyboard does not contain the Apple logo character. Sure you can find one third party keyboard that would allow you type the logo, here’s a text replacement trick that does the job.

Open this web page on your iPhone or iPad, tap and hold on this Apple logo  and select “Copy” from the menu. This will copy the Apple logo character into system clipboard.

Go to Settings app and select General > Keyboard > Shortcuts.

How to type Apple logo with iOS

On the keyboard shortcut screen, tap the “+” button on top right corner to add a new keyboard shortcut.

Adding keyboard shortcut to type Apple logo

On the “Phrase” field, tap and hold, and then select “Paste” from the menu to paste the Apple logo in the system clipboard into place.

On the “Shortcut” field, enter a short string such as “applelogo”. This text when type out will be replaced automatically by the  character. Tap the “Save” button to create the keyboard shortcut.

The next time when you want the Apple logo, start typing out “applelogo” (or the phrase you’ve chosen). The  character will appear in the Quick Type bar for you to select. Or you can type out the full phrase to have it automatically replaced with the Apple logo icon.

Typing Apple logo text replacement

Right click to image search in Chrome

Right click to image search in Chrome

Chrome browser has a convenient shortcut to launch Google Image search. Right click on any image on a web page, on the pop up menu select “Search Google for this image”. This feature is built right into Chrome and there is no need to install any extension or add-on.

How to remove a password from a PDF file in OS X

It is common to password protect PDF documents with sensitive data, such as bank statements, legal contracts and financial records. Sometimes it is required that the password encryption to be removed from the PDF document. If you do not have the original source document that is used to generate the PDF file, you can use the following simple workaround to create a password free copy of the PDF document.

Open the password protected PDF with Preview app in OS X. Enter the password to first unlock the document.

How to remove a password from a PDF file in OS X

Select from the menu File > Export As PDF. A “Save As” file dialog box will appear. Enter a file name and select the location to save the new PDF file. This new PDF document will be password free. If you select the source PDF to save to, it will be replaced with the same document without password protection.

How to display week numbers in Calendar app for iOS

Display week number in Calendar app for iOS

Calendar app for iOS by default does not show the week numbers. It is an easy switch to display the week numbers in the calendar view. This is useful if your work rely on week numbers for event planing and schedule. 

Go to Settings app > Mail, Contacts, Calendar. Scroll down to the Calendars section and toggle to turn on the “Week Numbers” switch. The week numbers will appear in a lighter grey text on the leftmost side before the start of the week.

Week numbers in iOS Calendar app

Sound quality: Apple Music vs Spotify vs Tidal

Music streaming services are not build the same, down to the audio quality that is delivered to you. Apple Music streams its music at 256kbps using AAC format, Spotify is using Ogg Verbs format at 320kbps for its premium subscribers, and Tidal is touting its CD quality lossless streaming as its major selling point.

On paper, Apple Music seems to be the worst off. But it is widely acknowledged that 256kbps AAC sounds as good and often better than 320kbps Ogg Vorbis or MP3 due to AAC’s better encoding scheme. Tidal appears to be the one with the best sound quality out of the three. But in real world listening, there probably is not much difference between all three streaming services in term of sound quality.

The Verge did an audio blind test comparing Apple Music, Spotify and Tidal

The results were very, very surprising to me. It was generally random across the board, though Spotify fared slightly worse than Apple Music and Tidal overall. In roughly 29 percent of the tests, subjects couldn’t tell any notable difference at all. Tidal — which wants you to pay more for lossless quality — most definitely didn’t take the crown, and in several cases, subjects actually identified it as the worst-sounding of the three.

It is generally very hard to do an audio blind test. Typically you need high end audio equipments in order to better discern the sound differences. The Verge is using a small sample group and only tested three songs. They are using a under $100 headphone (Sony MDR-7506) paired with iPhone 6 Plus,  suggesting they are getting feedback from normal listening setup. 

It is debatable if the test is conclusive. But one thing is certain: the difference in sound quality among the streaming services doesn’t matter if you do not have an audiophile quality headphone or speaker.

The call to kill Adobe Flash is rising

Flash by Adobe has been a dominant rich media plugin for the web since the 80s. The first call to abolish this “industry standard” was when Steve Jobs famously lambasted it for Flash’s lack of battery efficiency. Thanks to Steve, Flash has never been supported on iPhone or iPad. Google follow suit by ending Flash support on Android in December 2011.

Apparently this is not sufficient to kill Flash on the desktop. Many sites and web apps are still clinging on to it and is not making the migration to alternative technology such as HTML5. The only way to kill Flash is for Adobe to announce an end-of-life schedule. Sadly there is no indication if Adobe plans on doing so.

Following the security breach of surveillance company Hacker Team, zero day bugs were discovered in Flash that allowed attackers to take over user’s machine. In response, Facebook’s chief security officer Alex Stamos has called for the end of Flash:

Even if 18 months from now, one set date is the only way to disentangle the dependencies and upgrade the whole ecosystem at once.

- Alex Stamos (@alexstamos)

Mozilla has also pitch in its effort by deactivating Flash Player plugin by default in Mozilla browser.

If you do not depend on any Flash sites, it is best not to install the Flash Player plugin with your Safari or Mozilla browser. The exception is Google Chrome which comes with Flash player bundled. One way to minimise Flash player usage is to use Safari or Mozilla as your main browser. And fire up Google Chrome if you run into a Flash site.

How to listen to explicit songs on Apple Music

Apple Music allows you to stream music from a library of over 30 million songs. Songs with explicit lyrics are marked with an “E” or “Explicit”. Due to how iOS implements Restrictions (meant for parental control), by default explicit songs are greyed out and not playable. This applies to music videos too. Here’s a quick fix.

Go to Settings > General. Tap on Restrictions and then tap the Enable Restrictions button to enable restriction.

How to listen to explicit songs on Apple Music

Scroll down to bottom and look for Music, Podcasts & iTunes U and then turn on the switch for Explicit.

Listen to explicit songs on Apple Music

And that’s all. You need to enable restrictions in order to hear restricted songs. Now you’ll be able to listen to all the streaming content available on Apple Music.

Apple released first public beta of iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan

iOS 9 Beta and OS X El Capitan Beta

Apple has made the first public beta of iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan generally available. Anyone can enrol and get download instructions at beta.apple.com. Public beta release is meant for users who wants to preview the upcoming operating systems. Public beta users can easily submit feedback for issues using the Feedback Assistant app prior to the stable release this fall. As with all beta software, only install iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan public beta on your non-critical iOS device and Mac.

iOS 9’s shrinking space requirement for upgrading

iOS 8 requires your device to have at least 4.58GB free space before the upgrade. This is probably one of the main reasons the installation rate for iOS 8 were slow for several months following launch. Many users especially those with 16GB devices were having difficulty freeing up that much space.

Apple has significantly reduced the space requirement for iOS 9 upgrade to a mere 1.3GB. In addition, developers using iOS 9 beta have discovered a new space management feature which is useful for uses who have little space during the upgrade.

iOS 9 space management during upgrade

When you upgrade to iOS 9 on a device with limited space, a popup will offer the option to temporarily delete some apps on your device to make room for the upgrade. Apps that are deleted will then be reinstalled automatically after the update is completed.

This is great news for all users and will greatly spur the adoption rate. iOS 9 is compatible with all devices running iOS 8 and is scheduled for release this fall.