TWEETBOT 3 Your favorite Twitter client updated
LEGO ROBOTS • iCLOUD KEYCHAIN
NEWS • REVIEWS • TIPS
HELLO! Welcome to this sample of Swipe: the iPhone magazine. We’ve put together a taster of what each edition offers, with all the hottest iOS news, reviews of the latest apps and accessories, plus expert advice from the people that bring you Tips & Tricks – iPhone Secrets. We hope you enjoy this small slice of what Swipe has to offer, and don’t forget to check out the full free trial on the App Store. Happy reading!
THE SWIPE TEAM
iPad takes to the air First weekend sales success
ith the iPad Air now available worldwide, we thought we’d share some nuggets of interesting info. At the time of writing, no figures have yet been released, but analysts believe that this fifth-generation iPad could well sell as many a 3.5 million units, breaking last year’s record of 3 million for the iPad 4. Of course, we have to factor in that this new tablet hit 52 countries in its opening weekend, compared to just 27 for its predecessor. Also, it hasn’t had to compete with the new iPad mini, which has yet to be released. According to analysts PiperJaffray, a larger proportion of people buying the iPad Air are upgrading from earlier models. In a survey of 71 dayone buyers it revealed that some 75% already had an iPad, compared to 58% last year, and that these early adopters had a typical upgrade cycle of around 23 months, compared to 30 months for the general public (in all likelihood, this means skipping just one generation of iPad compared to two or more).
Keep it in the family The majority of those surveyed also revealed that they didn’t expect to keep using their old machine. The 18% that did were using iPad minis, which are more likely to be kept and used alongside the full-sized iPad. We assume all the other machines have been given to family members or already sold on ebay. Marketing service Fiksu, has been tracking usage of the iPad Air and found that, in comparison with the same time period last year, it’s running at three times the level of the iPad mini, and five times that of the iPad 4 (although the launch of Wi-Fi and cellular units was staggered over two weeks). After just two days, the iPad Air makes up 0.73% of all iPad activity, but with some 170 million iOS tablets having been sold, this figure represents over 1.2 million iPad Airs. So, in short: the iPad Air has sold pretty well and people are busy using them to do stuff.
Research spending What are they building?
n its recent announcement for Quarter Four results, Apple has revealed that it spent $4.5 billion on Research & Development (R&D), an increase of 32% over last year and the most it has ever spent on R&D. Apple stated: The Company continues to believe that focused investments in R&D are critical to its future growth and competitive position in the marketplace and are directly related to timely development of new and enhanced products that are central to the Companyâ€™s core business strategy As such, the Company expects to make further investments in R&D to remain competitive. This points to Apple having some big things in the works for next year. With rumors of the iWatch and Apple TV, could all this money be being spent on getting these ready?
Tweetbot 3 Tapbots
The Twitter client gets an overhaul for iOS 7, but how does it fare?
hen iOS 7 appeared, we did wonder what would happen to Tapbots, whose apps are built around the conceit of being individual taskspecific robots. Hugely texture-rich, Tapbots apps didn’t feel particularly iOS 6, but they certainly don’t align with iOS 7’s airy type-led nature either. Tweetbot 3 is a major overhaul of the company’s Twitter client, bringing with it a major interface revamp and a rethinking of just what it means to be a Tapbot.
Tweetbot 3’s clean, simple interface is a world away from its predecessor’s
For the most part, the interface changes are a success. Tweetbot 3 makes great use of space, and minimising interface chrome enables the content to stand out. However, Tapbots hasn’t merely ripped out all of the textures and sprayed Helvetica Neue everywhere – spend time with the app, and its playfulness still shines through, albeit more subtly. For example, select a tweet and its colours invert, making it easier to differentiate; as the tweet transforms, the control bar folds out, providing access to reply, retweet and favourite buttons.
Third time’s a charm
However the new interface isn’t always so successful. There’s too much excitable animation, which might affect motion-sensitive people or those with balance disorders, and the new alert sounds are horrible. But when the visual effects are used more carefully, they can be charming and usable, such as when you tap an image thumbnail and the rest of the interface zooms out a little, blurring into the background.
Tweets button provides access to someone’s tweets, mentions and favorites
Getting around the app has also been rethought. Triple-tap is gone, apparently to make the app more responsive to single taps (and it is – noticeably). Also gone is the means to switch the main feed for a list, which is frustrating. There is a new List tab, but that’s only available from the two ‘custom’ toolbar slots, and therefore fills one of them if you’re a big list user; also, there’s no way to start a new tweet from the List tab, because the only button is Members, for managing the list.
Rather better is the manner in which Tweetbot almost introduces a kind of multitasking by making each tab independent. You can now tap on a link and open a web view in the main feed, switch to another tab, and then return. For power users, this ability to rapidly flick between web views and feeds is a boon. The addition of native push and background app refresh transforms Tweetbot 3 into a definitively modern creation compared to its impressive but comparatively heavy and dated predecessor. VERDICT
HUMAN TOUCH “A brave new direction for Tapbots that, while imperfect, remains among the best Twitter clients on the platform”
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LEGO Mindstorms EV3 PRICE $349/£300
he latest generation of LEGO’s robotics system features a smarter ‘intelligent brick’, and iOS support. We went hands-on, purely in the name of investigative journalism, of course. The origins of LEGO’s Mindstorms series can be traced back to the 1980s, when members of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology began using computers to control LEGO machines. This work led to the creation of a programmable ‘intelligent brick’, which could control the models autonomously, without the need for connecting cables. The MIT group and LEGO began collaborating in 1985, at which point the project was named ‘Mindstorms’, after a 1970’s academic paper by one of the scientists involved. LEGO decided to commercialize the Mindstorms concept, refining the intelligent brick idea into the RCX (Robotic Command eXplorer). In 1998 LEGO revealed the Mindstorms Robotics Invention System, which went on sale later that year.
The advent of the NXT series in 2006 brought a more advanced programmable brick, a range of motors and sensors, plus a sophisticated graphical programming interface called NXT-G. An updated NXT version 2.0 was released in 2009, including a color sensor and several new functions.
And so we come to EV3, the third generation Mindstorms kit, featuring iOS integration. The intelligent brick at the heart of the system now boasts a 300MHz ARM-9 chip, rather than the 48MHz ARM-7 in NXT 2.0, with a slightly improved LCD screen and Micro SD slot. At 585 pieces it’s slightly smaller than its predecessor, but makes five distinct models, with a further 12 designed by the Mindstorms community and available from within the Mindstorms app.
Mindstorms EV3 works on three levels: at its most basic, you can just build the models and control them using either the bundled IR controller, or via your iPhone or iPad over Bluetooth. Then you can try out the various ‘missions’ for each one, which helps you get to grips with the modular programming system. And finally, you can create your own machines from scratch, and program their behavior.
The EV3 set contains paper instructions for your first model, with the others available as step-by-steps via the app, as downloadable PDFs or as 3D animations. If you have an iPad, you can download the 3D Builder app, which is just fantastic. The entire model is displayed as 3D objects, and you can step through the building process, and scale and rotate sections on-screen using the usual touch controls. Clearly a load of work has gone into it, and it makes the paper manuals feel positively stone age.
Once your model is complete, using the iPhone or iPad to control your contraptions is far better than the IR controller, which only has a few buttons and needs to be continually toggled between modes. Pairing via Bluetooth is as fiddly as always, but once done, control is responsive, and the touch screen allows for subtler, analogue movement than straight button presses.
So far, so fun. But the really interesting part of Mindstorms EV3 is the ability to build basic (and not so basic) programs using the EV3 ‘Home Edition’ app. This free app for the Mac or PC has building instructions, videos, help files, a news feed, community links and the all-important LabVIEW programming environment.
Here you can add functionality to each model with the aforementioned ‘missions’. For example, the basic Track3r model can be programmed to shoot at targets or pick up and move objects. You need to modify the base model with the required equipment, and then either load the program – or, better still, create it yourself using the step-by-step instructions. Programs are built of modular blocks, which you drag and drop together to form a program, which you can then download and run on the EV3 intelligent brick.
As a side note, you can also program the brick directly via its LCD interface, but it’s small, cramped and lacks a backlight, so is difficult to see in most lighting situations. The basic missions give you an idea of what’s going on, and with the model connected via USB or Bluetooth, it’s an easy way to experiment: you can add a block, alter its functions, run the program and immediately see what happens. But while the mission instructions tell you what to do, they’re not great at explaining why you’re doing it – or how you might use these blocks in your own projects. You’ll still need to refer to the online docs to learn the finer details of making your own programs.
iCloud Keychain Password management
ith the release of iOS 7.0.3, Apple also activated a new feature called iCloud Keychain. This allows you to store passwords and credit cards and then have them automatically entered when using other Apple devices too.
Enable iCloud keychain To get started, you need to turn iCloud Keychain on. Open the Settings app, select iCloud, tap the Keychain option and turn it on. You’ll then need to enter a four-digit passcode, or use the one that you have for unlocking the screen. Make sure you remember this code as you’ll need it to view your passwords or to reset.
You’ll then be asked to enter a contact phone number so that it’s possible to receive SMS messages from Apple that’ll be used to confirm connections on other devices.
AutoFill To start saving your passwords, return to the main Settings menu and select Safari. From here tap the Passwords & AutoFill option and turn on the Names and Passwords option. Now when entering a website through Safari, you will be asked if you would like to save the details. If you do, this will be added to your iCloud Keychain and accessed by tapping on the Saved Passwords option.
You can tap on any of the entries and enter the passcode you set up earlier to see the full details, including the password.
NEWS • REVIEWS • TIPS
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