What can Apple Watch do?

Many smartphone users nowadays do not wear a watch. To them the function of time telling in a traditional watch has been replaced by their iPhone or Android phone. As of right now, there is not any major use case that makes a smart watch a lifestyle changing necessity . This is partly the reason why there is a $17,000 Apple Watch, as Apple is trying to convince you that the Apple Watch is an essential fashion accessory. What can Apple Watch do besides showing it off to your friends and telling the time?

Apple Watch is a companion device to an iPhone. You need an iPhone in order for it to function meaningfully. Apple Watch is designed as a small screen that is closer to you than a phone in a pocket, that displays short burst of info to you that you care about. With Apple Watch you can answer phone call from your iPhone, interact with Siri, answer your messages/chats or receive notifications from apps. Instead of drawing out your iPhone from a bag, you can use Apple Watch as the scanning device when paying with Apple Pay. Apple Watch will also alert you to be active if you’ve been idle for too long.

During the recent “Spring Forward” March media event, Apple’s Kevin Lynch was on stage to showcase some possibilities with Apple Watch with demo of third party apps. Fast forward to about 1:08 to watch the demo. 

During the demo, Apple Watch is shown to summon a Uber, receive boarding pass and barcode to unlock airport gate, act as door key to hotel room, and remotely control your home’s garage door. It appears that what Apple Watch can do is limited by the imagination of app developers. Will Apple be able to convince you to add a daily-charging-required watch into your lifestyle?

Mario, Pokemon and Zelda are coming to iOS App Store

Mario Brothers coming to iOS App Store

Nintendo is finally letting loose their game characters outside of its hardware platforms. Nintendo held a press conference together with DeNA to announce their alliance. DeNA is a successful Japanese studio that develops games for the iOS and Android. In DeNa’s press release, there is a mention of new games based on Nintendo’s characters for smart devices, without pointing to any specific platform. But it is highly hopeful that iOS will be a target platform.

Leveraging the strength of Nintendo’s intellectual property (IP) and game development skills in combination with DeNA’s world-class expertise in mobile games, both companies will develop and operate new game apps based on Nintendo’s IP, including its iconic game characters, for smart devices. 

There is no specific about if they will be porting their existing flagship Mario and Pokemon games to non-Nintendo hardware. Games under the alliance are expected to arrive by the end of the year. Something to look forward to if you’re Mario, Pokemon or Zelda fans.

Workflow app

Workflow for iOS

iOS devices are not made to be customizable as OS X desktop due to its sandwich environments for reliability purpose. Apps are run single purposely one at a time and there is no real multitasking tailored for efficiency.

iOS 8 changes all by providing app frameworks that allow apps to interact with each other. Developers can now build app extensions to provide Today’s widgets, Photos extensions, custom keyboard, share options and custom actions. These opens greatly the possibility of customization in iOS.

Now there is an app aptly named Workflow that takes advantage of iOS 8’s new extension frameworks. It is the first true automation app on iOS. If Apple were to build Automator for iOS, it would be similar to this app.

Workflow App

Workflow provides a quick tutorial to walk you though building steps to create a GIF. The interaction is largely drag and drop by selecting the steps/actions to create the workflow that you like. Workflow includes over 150 actions for favourite apps. For example, Add New Event to add event to Calendar app, Send Mail to send a mail, Save to Dropbox to save to Dropbox etc.

In case you’ve run out of idea what workflow is possible, there is a Gallery of prebuilt workflows which serve as templates to get you started to copy and customize as your own. In addition, you can save a workflow as bookmark on your iOS home screen. This is called Workflow app. Tapping on the app icon will launch and start the workflow.

Workflow has a simple and intuitive interface. After a day’s heavy usage, we’ve barely scratched what is possible with this app. Workflow is now at a 40% off for a limited time as part of launch special. Highly recommended.

Voice Text message in iOS 8

In case you’re not aware that iMessage in iOS 8 is capable of voice messaging, Apple has created a new “Voice Text” commercial to illustrate.

The commercial features Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake, following the same theme as previous iPhone 6 ads. Voice text feature is not exclusive to iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus. It is available for any iPhone model that is running iOS 8.


Format text and insert picture in Notes for iOS 8

Notes for Mac has supported basic text formatting and image insertion for a while. After eight version of iOS, we finally get the same functionalities in Notes for iOS. It is a welcomed relief if you use Notes app to iCloud sync between iOS and Mac regularly. 

Text Formatting

To apply formatting, first select the text to format in your note. To select text, double-tap on a word, then move the selection handles to include the range of text you want to format.

Format text and insert picture in Notes for iOS 8

On the popup edit menu, tap on the “BIU” button which stands for Bold, Italics, Underline.

Formatting Text in Notes for iOS 8

Tap on the desired Bold, Italics or Underline button to apply the formatting.

Picture Insertion

To insert a picture, on the insertion location in your note, tap and hold and then release the tap.

Inserting picture in Notes app for iOS 8

On the popup edit menu, select “Insert Photo” button. You will then be prompted to select a photo from your Photos library. Choose “Paste” from the menu if you want to insert picture or text in your iOS clipboard.

Things for iPhone and iPad goes free for a week

Get Things free for iPhone and iPad

Things for iPhone and iPad are now free till November 28 as part of Apple’s App of The Week. It is considered a great deal as the iPhone version is normally $9.99 and for the iPad version $19.99. Things is one of the few apps that were making headlines in the early years of iPhone. Not as popular now, but you might want to give Things a try if you’re not satisfied with the stock Reminder app or competitors such as Wunderlist or Any.do.

As part of the promotion, Things for Mac is now at a 30% discount at $34.99 from the Mac App Store.

Get Things for iPhone free on the App Store

Get Things for iPad free on the App Store

Access and remove open Safari tabs on your other iCloud devices in OS X Yosemite

Safari in OS X Yosemite comes with a brand new Tab View to help you manage open tabs in Safari. You can toggle the Tab View using Shift-Command-\ keyboard shortcut, from menu View > Show All Tabs, pinching on the trackpad or click on the tab view button located on right top corner of Safari window.

Safari OS X Yosemite Tab View Icon

Tab View displays all your open tabs in grid of thumbnails. Each thumbnail is a preview of the content of the website. This gives you a visual clue to easily switch to a particular site by clicking on the thumbnail. To close a tab, mouse over the thumbnail and click on the X icon on the upper left corner.

New Tab View in OS X Yosemite Safari

Just below the thumbnails is a list of open tabs on your other iCloud enabled devices. Thus tab view in essence replaces the old iCloud Tabs button. The ability to access open tabs on other devices is one convenient feature to allow you to continue viewing a site on your Mac. When you mouse over a link, you can click on the X button at the end of the tab title to close the tab. If you find closing Safari tabs on small iPhone screen cumbersome, you can now close them on a Mac. 

Switch off iMessage when you’re moving to a non-Apple phone

If you’re switching to use the same SIM card on your iPhone to a non-Apple phone such as Android, remember to turn off iMessage before the switch. If you don’t switch the iMessage service off, you might not receive SMS or text messages someone sends you from an iPhone.

To turn off iMessage, on the iPhone that has the SIM card, go to Settings > Messages and turn off the “iMessage” switch. 

Switch off iMessage when you're moving to a non-Apple phone

If you no longer have your iPhone with you, Apple has created a “Deregister iMessage” website that allows you to resolve this issue. 

Deregister iMessage

Visit the site and enter your phone number and click the “Send Code” link. Apple will then send you a 6-digit confirmation code via SMS to your new phone. Enter the confirmation code into the form and click “Submit” to deregister your phone number with iMessage.

How to activate the iTunes mini player in OS X Yosemite

OS X Yosemite brings a refresh look with a flatter and more translucent design. Bundled Apple OS X apps are updated to keep up with the new look. iTunes is no exception, with changes that might take some adjustment to get used to.

The mini player icon is gone from the top left corner of iTunes window. To switch iTunes to mini player mode in OS X Yosemite, you click on the album artwork.

How to activate iTunes mini player 1

By default, the mini player displays a not-so-mini album artwork. The size is acceptable if you have a 27 inch screen. To make iTunes player truly small, click on the double-arrow icon.

iTunes mini player in OS X Yosemite artwork mode

iTunes mini player will now shrink to the size and look that we’re familiar with.

iTunes mini player in OS X Yosemite

Click on the same double-arrow icon to toggle back to the album artwork look.

To switch off mini player mode and return to full window, click on the x button.