App Development with Swift

App Development with Swift

Since its debut in WWDC in 2014, Swift programming language has become one of the most sought-after skill for developers on the Apple platforms. As part of Everyone Can Code effort, Apple has released a new app development full-year curriculum called “App Development with Swift”. The course, comes as a free download ebook on the iBooks Store, is designed for those who want to pursue careers in iOS app development.

5 things Apple did not mention in WWDC 2017 keynote

5 things Apple did not mention in WWDC 2017 keynote

It was a jam packed WWDC 2017 keynote by Tim Cook and his team. Besides new version of iOS 11, macOS 10.13 High Sierra, watchOS 4 and tvOS 11, Apple also launches new update to iMac, MacBook and MacBook Pro, new iMac Pro, new 10.5” iPad Pro and new Siri-powered $349 smart speaker HomePod.

This WWDC also signals Apple’s inroad to being an AR (Augmented Reality) platform, there is an emphasis to GPU processing in its Metal 2 API. And high end iMac are now boosting GPU good enough for AR/VR play and production. In addition, Apple is making it easier for developers to add Machine Learning (ML) into their apps wth its Core ML SDK and Visions API.

Here are 5 things that Apple did not mention in its keynote:

1. iOS 11 does not run 32-bit apps

Apple has been displaying warning message in iOS 10 when you run a 32-bit app. Apple actually advised its developers to upgrade to 64-bit since mid 2015. In iOS 11, 32-bit games and apps will not run. Check out this post on how you can identify if your favourites apps are 32-bit.

2. New Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad

Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad

Kind of surprising to get a full-size wireless keyboard from Apple. Its $129.

3. New iCloud storage pricing

Apple has updated its iCloud storage pricing by increasing what you pay $9.99 per month for from 1 TB to 2 TB. The rest of pricing tiers remains unchanged.

– 5GB free
– 50GB $0.99
– 200GB $2.99
– 2TB $9.99 

4. MacBook Air is updated with faster processor

MacBook Air is not dead. The processor gets a speed bump from 1.6GHz to 1.8GHz.

5. MacBook Pro is still limited to maximum 16GB memory

One of the major complaints with the redesigned 2016 year end MacBook Pro is its 16GB configuration limit. This limit supposedly pissed a number of “pro” users to switch to use Windows notebook. The latest update to MacBook Pro is sticking to the 16GB limits.

20 tips from Apple on how to shoot on iPhone 7

20 tips from Apple on how to shoot on iPhone 7

Apple has a micro site that features a series of 20 videos on how to take the best photos using iPhone 7. These includes tips on how to take low-light photos, capture action shots, taking selfies with timer, capturing vertical panoramas etc. iPhone 7 is used in the videos but most of the tips apply equally to other iPhone models. Check out the site How to shoot on iPhone 7.

Identify list of outdated 32-bit apps in iOS

Starting with iOS 10, Apple has started displaying warning message when you’re running a 32-bit app. You might encounter messages such as “The developer of this app needs to update it to improve its compatibility” or “This app will not work with future versions of iOS”.

Apple plans to phase out 32-bit apps in the App Store and has been advising developers to migrate to 64-bit. Rumour has it that the next version of iOS 11 releasing this fall will support only 64-bit apps. Apple actually requires its developers to support 64-bit when they submit new app or app update since June 2015.

Unfortunately there are still hundreds of thousand of apps in the App Store that are 32-bit only. Which means these legacy apps has not been updated by its developers since mid 2015. With iOS 10.3 update, Apple makes it easy for you to identify these apps. Go to Settings > General > About and scroll down to the Applications. If you can tap on this line, you will be taken to the “App Compatibility” page, which list all the apps that are not compatible with future iOS version. You might want to reach out to app developer for 64-bit support if you’re using any legacy app.

You can now shop Google Store from other countries

You can now shop Google Store from other countries

Google Store has a number of the company’s first-party hardwares that are attractive to even iOS and Mac users. For example the ever-popular Google Home speaker with Siri-like Google Assistant. Unlike Apple’s online store, Google Store are operating in limited number of countries. 

Google has now open its online store to let you purchase device from other country. When you visit from a country that does not operate Google Store, you’re now given the choice to browse and buy from store in available country. 

When you buy from the US Google Store, the device however can only be shipped to a US address. You can then use one of the many parcel forwarding services to deliver the device to your home country.

Notable: Amazon Alexa finally available on iOS; Chrome for iOS has a new Read Later feature; Netflix changes star rating to thumbs up and down

Amazon Alexa finally available on iOS

Amazon Alexa finally coming to iOS

When Amazon launches its smart speaker Amazon Echo in June 2015, it became an instant hit due mainly to its built-in Siri competitor Amazon Alexa voice assistant. There are third party iOS apps that allow you to interact with Alexa. Amazon is now bringing Alexa to iOS with the official Amazon app. You can now use it without buying any Amazon hardware.

You can use Alexa voice assistant to check the status of your order, do a product search, play music, start listening to Audible, check the news and weather etc. Check out Amazon iOS app [App Store Direct Link].

Chrome for iOS has a new Read Later feature

Chrome for iOS has a new Read Later feature

Google has updated its Chrome for iOS which comes with a brand new Read Later feature. The function is similar to Reading List in Safari except the articles in your reading list are saved on your device and you can read them even when you aren’t connected to the web. To add article to the reading list, tap on the standard share button on Chrome for iOS. On the popup menu, select “Read Later” Chrome icon to add the page to the list. [Direct link to Chrome for iOS on App Store]

Netflix changes star rating to thumbs up and down

Netflix changes star rating to thumbs up and down

According to Variety, Netflix is replacing its star rating for movie and TV review to simply just thumbs up or thumbs down. Based on user testing by Netflix, the simpler thumbs up/down got 200% more ratings than traditional star-rating feature. The changes is expected to roll out globally within the next month.

How to scan QR codes using browsers on iOS

There are a number of QR code reader app on the App Store. Most QR codes are nothing more than a link to a website address, thus it is convenient if mobile browser has QR code support built right in. This would mean one less app on your iPhone. 

Mobile Safari and Firefox do not support the scanning and reading of QR code. QR reading and scanning however are built-in feature for Chrome, Opera Mini, Puffin Browser and UC Browser.

For Opera Mini, the QR scanning option is available when you start typing in the address bar. Tap on the QR button on the keyboard toolbar to access the QR scanner.

QR scanner in Opera Mini

For Puffin Browser the QR scanner button is conveniently located on the right end of the address bar.

Puffin Browser QR Scanner

Similar to Puffin Browser, the QR scanner button on UC Browser is located at the end of the address bar.

UC Browser QR Scanner

Chrome is not making its QR scanning feature obvious to use. You can not access it from within the app. Instead the QR option is available when you 3D Touch the Chrome icon on the home screen. On the 3D Touch menu that pops up, tap on “Scan QR Code”.

3D Touch to access QR Scanner in Chrome

For those using an iPhone without 3D Touch, you can access Chrome’s QR scanner by using Spotlight search. On the home screen, pull down the Notifications screen or Search screen to access the Spotlight. Key in “qr” on the Spotlight search to let spotlight display the list of apps and documents with “qr” wording.

Using Spotlight to access Chrome QR Scanner

From the Spotlight result list, look for the Chrome icon with the text “Scan QR Code”. Tap on it will bring you directly to Chrome and launching the QR scanner.

It’s a good habit to turn on your iPhone using the Lock/Power button

Good habit to turn on your iPhone using the Lock Power button Today View

Ever since Apple redesign the iOS lock screen by removing the swipe-to-unlock gesture, you merely just need to press the Home button to wake and unlock the phone automatically using Touch ID. At times the Touch ID unlock the phone too quickly that you’d miss the Lock screen completely. 

Lock screen can be useful for quick glance at the time and date. Swiping right on the Lock screen will get you to the Today screen where you can place some useful widgets such as latest stock price and currency rates.

Swiping to the left will get you quick access to the camera. It is this convenience that you might want to consider to get in the habit of pressing the Lock/Power button to wake your phone to the Lock screen. Give it a try, it might saves you time if you use the camera a lot.

Recover hard disk space on your Mac by removing unused Xcode Simulator

If you’re Xcode user, especially if you’ve been running Xcode for few years, you might have outdated versions of iOS Simulator sitting on your precious hard disk doing nothing. Open up the Terminal app and enter the following command to remove those unused Simulator.

xcrun simctl delete unavailable

You can easily recover 2 to 8 GB of hard disk space, depending on how many Xcode Simulator you’ve installed in the past.

You can now apply for job in US and Canada from right within Facebook

You can now apply for job in US and Canada right within Facebook

Facebook has launched in the US and Canada a service to allow businesses to post job opening in businesses’ Facebook Pages. Aim at small business, the job openings can be posted to the news feed through status update, and will appear on a “Jobs” tab on business Page. When you see the posting, you can hit the “Apply Now” button to send an application. Facebook will pre-fill your profile and send your application via Facebook Messenger.