Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Google Takes Aim at Siri with New iOS Search App

These stories are link bait. Other than both using voice to interact
with the service, Google Search and Siri are two very different
services. Google Search only does one thing that Siri does. Google
Search doesn't create my calendar events or tell me when there is a
conflict and let me change either event's time slot to avoid the
conflict. Google Search doesn't initiate timers or alarms.

Google Search doesn't send an email or SMS message to my contacts.
Google Search doesn't create reminders for you or create notes that
she can append to at anytime. Google Search doesn't know where you
live nor give you directions by saying "taker home". Google Search
doesn't know who your spouse, brother, best friend or child is so it
contact them by phone, email or text without you saying there name.

Google Search doesn't update your Facebook or Twitter status for you.
Google Search doesn't make reserve tables at your favorite

Google Search doesn't launch my apps so I don't have to search for
them. Google Search doesn't play songs or playlists from my music

Siri is a personal assistant that can do many things; one of which is
to search the web via a verbal command. Google Search does do this.
Google naturally does this very well.

Comparing these two things are like comparing a Swiss Army knife to a
Phillips Power screwdriver. Siri can turn the screw and much more.
Google Search turns the screw faster and more efficiently, but that is
all it does. Both are worth using.


Carl W. Brooks
Check out my iPad/iOS/Mac technology website

On Oct 31, 2012, at 11:45 AM, Ted wrote:

> I checked out the updated Google Search after reading this article and agree that the voice search works pretty good.

iOS 6.0 Tip: Guide Access Lock You in an App

Apple has yet to provide us the ability to lock individual apps from prying eyes. We have our whole lives in our phone and everyone shouldn't have access to it when we share our phone or lose it.

The iOS jailbreak world has had the ability to lock individual apps for years now. Yes, the iOS devices allow you to add a security code or even a complex password to lock your device, but this not enough.

The all or nothing approach to security is not adequate. There are times when you hand your device to a friend to view pictures or even a text message. You don't want them roaming into your private pictures or email or even financial information.

Ever give your device to a kid to watch a movie or play a game only to find later that moved icons, deleted apps or even peeked at a SMS message that came in at the time? Haven't? Probably don't want to either.

Apple has made a small step towards securing your content and just your device. Guided Access does one thing; it locks the user into one app at a time.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Microsoft Surface RT - Initial Thoughts

What is the Microsoft Surface RT, and is it you? Microsoft has released its surface tablet to the world and they have bombarded the TV world with advertisements, but they don't tell you much about it. Carl Brooks of shares his thoughts on the Microsoft Surface RT.

Now that we have seen Microsoft's song and dance show, let's get down to what this device can and cannot do. First of all the Microsoft surface is not an iPad. It doesn't claim to be an iPad; actually Microsoft doesn't claim much about what it can do. On Microsoft's site there is very little information given as to what this device can do. I did find this little bit of information that Microsoft provides about what is installed on the device, "Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 RT Preview1, (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote); Windows Mail and Messaging; SkyDrive; Internet Explorer 10; Bing; Xbox Music, Video, and Games."

So based on the software that Microsoft provides with the Surface RT, we know that you can manage your MS Office files, manager your email, send messages, store and retrieve your data from their SkyDrive cloud storage service, surf the web, listen to music, watch video and play games.

Will get into more of what it can do or cannot do later, Since Microsoft seems to focus their commercials and their website data primarily on the design of the Surface RT, I'll start with the design too.

Microsoft described the Surface RT as, "a feat of engineering and a work of art. One touch and you’ll recognize the thoughtful design and precision craftsmanship that make Surface a joy to behold. The unique VaporMg casing delivers a high-quality fit and finish that’s ultra-light and durable."

The build quality is indeed done very well and It feels very nice in the hands. The kickstand is a very nice feature that just makes sense for a tablet. It works as advertised. I like it, but I didn't think it had the same quality sound of closing the door on a well engineered car as it was described on stage during the Surface RT announcement event.

The kickstand is well thought out and solid. When not in use, the kickstand becomes invisible. There is a small slot on the left side of the screen that allows a fingernail to open the kick stand. I kept trying to do it from the right side. I wondered why they didn't just add a slot on both sides so the kickstand could be opened from either side.

The second thing Microsoft spent their advertising budget on was to demonstrate how easily the external keyboard cover connects to the Surface RT via the integrated magnet(s). The single repeated Surface RT commercial shows multiple people clicking the two items together with a satisfying "Click".

The keyboard cover is super thin and light. The keys have no tactile feel nor any sound from the keys. They are not actual keys, but are imprints or drawings of keys. They work surprising well. I am not a touch typist, I mostly look at my keys as I type (even though I can type without looking - it's a bad habit). For me, this keyboard cover would be fine and is much better than typing on a glass screen. And it is light enough to carried all the time with the device.

The keyboard does not use Bluetooth, as most external keyboards do, but rather it has a physical connector that attaches when the two device connect with the magnetic pull. This is significant because the keyboard does not have to contain a battery like the Bluetooth keyboard do. That is why it can be so thin and light. They also

The Surface RT's dimensions are 10.81 x 6.77 x 0.37in with a 10.6" (diagonal) ClearType HD Display (1366x768 pixels). The iPad is 9.50 x 7.31 x 0.37in with a 9.7" (diagonal) LED-backlit Multi-Touch display with IPS technology (2048x1536 pixels). So while the two devices are in landscape orientation, the Surface RT is shorter from top to bottom, but longer from left to right. While sitting on a flat surface or in the hand, this orientation does not present any problem. The longer side presents some formatting problems when in the portrait orientation.

The Surface weights 1.5 lbs while the iPad (Wifi only) 1.44 lbs. So the Surface RT weights more without the cover. Keeping the keyboard attached, the device would cause hand fatigue over time as the full iPad does.

The Surface RT has buttons for power, volume up and down and a single home button. It has a 3.5 headphones jack, two speakers and two microphones (compared to the iPad mono speaker and single microphone). The real hardware differentiators for the Surface RT are the USB port and the microSDXC card slot. You can connect a flash drive, external hard drive, keyboard, mouse, wireless headphone, camera and many different USB devices to the USB 2.0 port. The microSDXC card slot allows additional storage space to be added to the device. The iPad does not offer these, but do offer some limited USB devices to be connected via a few optional dongles.

While I was able to plug my 1TB external USB hard drive to the Surface RT and access everything that was stored on it, I could not install many of the traditional Windows apps. Of course the RT is not designed to do so, but because Microsoft does not make it clear what it can do; people can become confused or frustrated as they learn by trial and error what it can and can not do. I believe people will think that they can do certain things because they see the traditional looking Windows Desktop while using the Surface RT. Of course the more expensive and heavier Surface Pro is supposed to let more or all traditional "Windows" apps work. The Surface RT has access to the Microsoft Store where apps made for Windows 8 can be downloaded. In some instances the windows 8 OS seems to prefer apps in the Microsoft Store over those found via the web or via your USB storage space. Time will tell how this will work on the Surface Pro.

But if the Windows Surface RT does not offer a full Windows PC experience than it must offer a full tablet experience, right? What is a full tablet experience? There are tons of Android tablets on the market that do not offer a full tablet experience. Many tablets are missing key essential apps, many don't have a well stocked app store (or no store at all), many offer a sub-par touch screen experience and most so not have access to an ecosystem for music, movies and more.

The Windows Surface RT don't suffer from all of these problems. If it had any problem, it would be a lack of essential apps. The Windows 8 store offer many recognizable apps like Evernote, Angry Birds, Netflix and Cut the Rope, but missing key apps like Pandora, Facebook, Dropbox, Logmein and more.

Speaking of, they have an iPad app called Ignition that has a feature I love.  When remote controlling my Windows computer, there is an setting that allows me to touch anywhere on the screen and move the mouse cursor to any point on the screen.  I like this method much better than being required to touch the screen exactly where I need to with my finger tip.  Sometimes the item that needs to be selected or clicked is too small and having my finger blocking the image I need to click is not the best way to implement this.  The Microsoft Surface RT using the "put your finger directly on the item method".  I would rather they give me the option to touch everywhere on the screen to move the mouse.  Whenever I entered into the Windows mode on the Surface RT, I felt a bit lost at times.  There is no start button.  Finding things that I commonly use became a chore that I sometimes gave up on before I located the setting or app.

The Surface RT is half a tablet and half a laptop replacement.  It doesn't appear to be a "full" anything.  It couldn't do many things I have come to love doing on an iPad; nor could it do many of the things I do on a computer or laptop.  If I can't do what I need to do on the device, I would at least like to be able to work remotely on another computer where I can do everything I want to do.  The problems with doing this are the Surface RT doesn't have a cellular antenna so I can't get connected without having access to WiFi and I couldn't get any remote software or VPN software to work in the Windows mode.

If Microsoft wants to sell the Surface as a laptop replacement, it has to get VPN and Remote Access applications working. Even with the iPad, that doesn't claim to be a laptop replacement device (but rather simply as a post-PC device), has remote tools that allow me to work on my remote computers while out and about. Sure Microsoft will eventually get the developers to create the essential apps, including remote tools, for the Surface tablet.

I have no doubt that developers will produce the essential app and because of this, the Microsoft Surface has a lot of promise. I think that Microsoft is not making any claims as to what the tablet can do, because they don't really know its full potential yet. It is just too early. It depends on what is developed for it.

The bottom line is this; all the Microsoft Surface RT has to be is a good tablet, but it isn't. It is a OK tablet with a lot of promise. But an OK tablet still might be adequate for many users. Let's look at the average Windows PC user. The average user uses Microsoft Office or Open Office to manage documents. The Surface RT satisfies this need. The average user surfs the web for Facebook, Ebay, Amazon and more. Surface RT does this. The average user plays music or watch videos and movies. These users manage their photos. They play games. They read news and gossip sources. The Microsoft Surface RT makes all of this possible. Maybe it doesn't have as many apps as the iPad or the big named Android devices. It does have more than the low end Android devices, but those are under $150.  The Surface RT can do what most users want to do on the go, but there are better options out there.

The Surface gets it right with the thin keyboard cover that is both light and functional. It proves that you can innovate beyond what is the norm (Bluetooth).  It also hits big with its build quality.  The kickstand is a necessary addition to a tablet or any size; especially tablet with a screen beyond 7.9 inches. Heck even a Smartphone is a great candidate for a kickstand. Where the Surface comes up short in both the tablet and laptop replacement departments. The Surface RT should have been designed as a pure tablet device with limited PC functions.  The apps used on the Surface RT should be built entirely with Windows 8 tile type interface.  Adding the "traditional Windows interface and desktop" for certain are activities and apps is a bad decision by Microsoft.  It is a pure indication that they tried to cheat on the implementation and development.  It was just plain easy (and lazy) to add the "old interface" in the Surface RT.  Those things are fine in the Surface Pro model, but not the Surface RT model.

The Surface RT boots up pretty fast and works pretty decent, but I would pass on it now. .It is just not ready for prime time. You will be better off letting the Microsoft develop the Surface RT further.  Wait to buy the 3rd or 4th generation Surface RT.  I look forward to seeing what this device evolves into. Remember that today's Apple's 4th Generation iPad has evolved quite well from the 1st Generation iPad.

The Windows Surface RT is no iPad, but then it doesn't have to be. There is enough tablet and Ultra book demand out here for them to do well regardless of what Apple, Samsung or even Google does in this crowded space. Some people are just going to prefer Windows and this device will eventually get to a place where it satisfies the typical tablet user.

It is about time Microsoft got active in this post PC world; eventually Microsoft will have to actually say what the Surface RT does. Or maybe they will just see what we figure out for ourselves and let us share what we find with the world. I hope Microsoft is not leaving the message  in our hands, because it will not be a very complete and pretty picture for them or the Surface RT.

By Carl W. Brooks, Editor

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Apple Stream the iPad Mini Event to Apple Products after my Plea

Last month I emailed Tim Cook making what I called "an outrageous but doable request". I wrote, "Imagine turning on the Apple TV device and launching the podcast app and being able to live stream the event. I do!" Now I didn't think that the email would reach him. I thought the email would end up in a Spam folder. If it make it. I didn't imagine anything would be done so quickly if ever.

Here is the email I sent.

---------- Forwarded message ----------

From: Carl Brooks
Date: Tue, Sep 11, 2012 at 9:23 PM
Subject: Unrealistic but Possible Request
To: "" 

Mr. Cook,

I know that Apple do not normally live stream the product announcements events, such as the one occurring tomorrow September 14, 2012, but I have an outrageous suggestion.

Please consider allowing us, the owners of an AppleTV device, to view a future announce event.  Wouldn't it be great to treat us to such a treat for being the faithful?

Imagine turning on the AppleTV device and launching the podcast app and being able to live stream the event. I do!

I know this request is unlikely to be received directly and even less probable for it to make it to you, but I believe this idea is something that is not only possible, but doable.

All impossible things become possible to become reality only after someone is willing to dream it is possible. Dream on. Thank you for your consideration. 

Carl W. Brooks

---------- End message ----------

One might say, it is coincidence, but it is highly unlikely.

I didn't get a chance to watch the event live because I never knew Mr. Cook acted on my request. He never responded to the email. In fact, I didn't know the event was streamed live until I was listening to the Mac OS on the Stitcher Radio app this morning. I sent the email because I thought that Apple would consider it. It only made sense. Apple loves that it customers are into their products. 

Who more than the current customers (and the press of course) would be so interested in the live stream of the event. I figured it would do a few things. Once Apple might consider it because it could lead to more device sales as the press outlets could use it to get first hand accounts of the event even if they were not invited to the event. 

If they don't own Apple products, they would in order to watch. Also, Apple fanatics could have "watch parties" and help spread the news in a very excited way. Why would Apple want this. You have to be in the "club" to watch, so it could lead to more sales and more Apple fanaticism. Lastly, it just made sense to me.

What would be the objection? Too much interest that a live stream would get overwhelmed  You wouldn't have the world tuning in and overloading the feed. You would stream it to the most likely people who are more effective than the press - the loyal Apple fans (customers).

Here are the screens (though not live) of how a streamed event would look on Apple TV.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Battery Tips - Drain Issues Resolved

When I purchased my iPhone 5, I was amazed at the great battery life I
was getting. My phone would not complain about a 20% battery life
until between 7:30pm - 9:30pm with very heavy use. I mean checking
several email accounts all day, watch video via YouTube or NFL Mobile,
streaming Stitcher Radio to start and end my commute. Of course I find
many apps to download, update or play throughout the day.

Suddenly this week I noticed that my iPhone 5 would be 30% or so by
3:30pm - 4:30pm. Normally I would not see these numbers for a few
hours more.

Last night I went through the battery saving steps that have practiced
over time:

Set brightness levels down and turn off auto brightness in Settings
Turn notifications off for apps
Change email to manual update instead of push
Turn Bluetooth off (I left this on because I use this all day)
Turn off Wifi
Turn off Location Services
Turn on Limit Ad Tracking
Turn off Raise to Speak
Turn off Send Diagnostic to Apple
Podcast -
Change auto lock to 1-2 minutes
Close open apps in the fast-switching tray

Today I got to work with 100% at 8am. When I left today at 3:20pm, my
battery is 85%. Wow back to the way it was prior to this week; if not

I think the biggest drain was location services and notifications.
Many app add notifications without you knowing. If you simply hit the
top toggle of notification, you are only turning off one portions of
the notifications.

Locations can be turned on when you need it and then turn back off
after use. You will be surprise how many apps using location services.
How many are working in the background when your device is idle.

Why some of these are iPhone specific, most can be applied to the iPad too.


Carl W. Brooks
Check out my iPad/iOS/Mac technology website

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

How to get Multiple Signatures on iOS Device

Some people use their iPhone or iPad for both business and pleasure. In my case, the iPhone is company issued and the iPad is my personal device. Both devices are used to send both personal and business emails.

No matter if the iPhone is company issues or personally purchased, you will find yourself sending both business and personal emails from the iOS device.

In the past, Apple has realized this and increased the number of email accounts that you can configure on your iOS device. While they added more accounts, they forced you to use a single signature for all of your email accounts.

This was bad. It meant you had to either keep the generic "Sent from my iPhone" signature for all accounts. Or type your longest email signature and trim it down each time before you sent your emails to your recipients.

I had my iPhone's signature set for work, because it was their device. I had my iPad's signature setup for my personal email because it was mine. I tried to send all work emails from the iPhone and all personal emails from the iPad, but that plan never succeeded.

I would find it was more convenient to send work emails from the bigger screen iPad then the smaller screen iPhone. Each time, I would have to delete my personal blog's URL from the signature; leaving only "Thanks, Carl W. Brooks". I didn't always remember. My boss never said anything, but I rather not combine the two. Now my blog is about iPad and the such, but what if it was about a subject many might find objectionable? My oversight could caused potential harm.

Well iOS 6 fixes all that, but it only can help if you take some time to set it up.

If you have a very long signature that you use, I suggest sending an email from the desktop to one of the accounts you have configured on the iOS device and then copy the selection of text prior to going forward. This will prevent you from having to type it again.

So here is a great tip to give you multiple signatures for your iPhone or iPad; and hopefully one less thing to think about.

iOS 6 (hopefully you upgraded by now) has added the ability to have a different email signature for each of your email accounts.

To get started, launch the Settings App and scroll down to the "Mail, Contacts, Calendar" link past the iCloud option.

Click the "Mail, Contacts, Calendar" link.

Scroll down and click "Signature"

By Default, "All Accounts" is selected and the default "Sent from my iPhone" signature is active and shown below.

Select "Per Account" to toggle the option and display a signature fields for each account you have configured on your device.

I have 4 accounts configured, so I have 4 boxes. Type the personal signature you want in each box.

Now your work emails sent from your iPhone can look a professional as they do when you send them from your desktop or laptop. Your personal email addresses can now promote your blog or interests again.

When you select a different email address in the Mail app, by clicking the "From" field, the email addresses will appear.

Clicking the appropriate email address, will produce the appropriate signature automatically.

If you find this information helpful, please share this story and/or website with others that have an iOS device. Please contribute by adding your thoughts in the comment area below.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

iPhone 4s vs. iPhone 5

The iPhone 5 noticeably faster than prior iPhones. It is noticeably
lighter. The front facing camera is of noticeably better quality. The
Headphone jack is moved to the bottom. The biggest change is the
removal of the 30 pin port and addition of the 8 pin Lightening port.
This change may affect users in a few possible ways.

For the people in our iPad group, it means that you now have to carry
two separate USB cables around with you. It was nice to be able to use
the iPad's cable to charge the iPhone too and vise versa. It you are
like me, you kept a charging cable at home, one at work and another
one on your person.

Owning previous iOS devices usually meant you had spare cables laying
around to create a multiple cable location setup which meant that you
had more charging opportunities.

The new Lightening cable for the iPhone 5 messes this arrangement up.
You now have many cables for the iPad and only one for the iPhone.
Before if you left your cable at home, you potentially had a few
people you could borrow a cable from. Someone with an iPod, iPod
Touch, iPhone or iPad could loan you their cable to let you recharge
your device.

Your choices are very limited until more people you know gets the new
iPhone 5. You now have to come up with a new plan. One option is to go
buy one or two Lightening connector cables.

Is Your Mac protected? Orbicule's Undercover for Mac

Hey gang, many of you have Macs so I'll share this with you. I know Kris recently had his iPad stolen and most of you already kno...