Back in the late 1960s, a popular public service announcement intoned: “It’s 10pm. Do you know where your children are?” Let’s rephrase that for today: “It’s 2012. Do you know where your data is?” My guess is that you don’t.
Thirty years ago, we geeks knew exactly where our data was: on floppies in Tyvek sleeves. Then we got multiuser systems at work, and shared hard drives with our coworkers. Next, networks put our files on central servers, a step further away from our direct control. In the 1990s came the Internet, which gave us access to a world of content, but which also gave the world a doorway--preferably a locked one--into our Macs.
Remember the scene in John Carpenter's sci-fi classic, They Live, where the hero dons a pair of special sunglasses and finally sees how the world around him really is? Using Google's awesome new iOS version of its Chrome browser offers a similar type of reality check, shining an ugly spotlight on how Apple holds back third-party browsers on the platform. If you've used Chrome on the Mac, you pretty much know what to expect from the iOS app: Fast omnibox search or URL entry, unlimited tabs, Incognito mode for private browsing, and the ability to sync open tabs, bookmarks, and passwords to a Google account in the cloud.
It was the week of Comic-Con and the week when Steam broke the internet by causing a stampede with their annual Summer Sale, and most of all it was another week with Apple and all the fun stuff you can do with your iOS device and your Macs. And it just my be that crazy summer heat, but we even allowed that Apple could learn a thing or two from rival Microsoft. Yeah, it was that kind of week.
Turn-based strategy games might seem like a somewhat complex genre for iOS’ pick-up-and-play market, but Outwitters seems primed to sell players on the approach with ease. Essentially, it’s an asynchronous online (or local pass-the-device) multiplayer board game utilizing hexagonal grid maps and a colorful, quirky art style, with the goal of maneuvering your team of odd creatures -- ranging from salty sea critters to sugary rainbow-pop cuddlies -- to destroy the enemy’s base on the opposite side of the board.
Like a few other apps we could name (ahem, Instagram), Pinterest remains mired in a pocket-sized mindset, stuck on our iPhones and iPods or simply blown up for our iPad. With all the great visuals posted to the popular social media site, we'd love it if there were a better way of interacting with our accounts than simply using Safari and a bookmarket. What about pictures we take on our iPads? Email them to ourselves, and then pull out a second gadget? Or sigh and stick with the official app?
Luckily, some third-party options are available to make Pinterest available in a native manner on the iPad, so here are some suggestions about how to get the best out of your pinning on Apple's big screen.
While GarageBand is arguably the best bargain in the App Store, offering up a potent brew of playable instruments and integrated multitrack recording, there has been an avalanche of impressive dedicated synthesizer apps in the last couple of years. If you're overwhelmed by the sheer volume of choices, here's a quick rundown of some of the top available picks. None are designed to replace GarageBand; in fact, most are primarily meant to be used in live musical performances, played as unique instruments with no counterparts in the real world. And the most expensive iPad synth app is still cheaper than almost any commercial Audio Units plugin for a desktop, so you'll find quality, convenience, and value within these 10 apps.
The great thing about board games on the iPad is that you don’t need any pieces. You just tap the buttons, poke the game board, flick the dice--it’s all on the screen. But if you miss the little chunks of plastic, iPieces are just that--felt-bottomed game tokens that interact with retro-style games on your iPad. Four sets are available: we tested Snakes & Ladders and Air Hockey, and you can also get the children’s board game Game of Goose, and Fishing, complete with a little plastic fishing rod, for $12.99 each.
Apple's new Podcasts app is a testament to the tremendous evolution the medium has undergone since its humble iPod beginnings. Having long outgrown its iTunes tab, it was inevitable that Apple would develop a standalone app to mark the podcast's maturation into a legitimate form of entertainment. Expectedly, the universal app looks great, though it's not quite as functional or bug-free as desired.
While you may be very excited about Mountain Lion and iOS 6, Apple isn’t the only company with interesting new products on the way. Microsoft is slated to release its long-awaited (and undeniably cool-looking) Windows 8 operating system for desktops later this year, with bona fide Surface tablets and a mobile release of Windows Phone 8 arriving shortly thereafter. So let’s take a look at what the competition is up to, and see where Apple could maybe learn a thing or two.
The iTwin ($99, www.itwin.com) is a handy way to securely share files with no worries about logins or fiddling with settings. Using a familiar drag-and-drop model that anyone who’s used a USB thumb drive can understand, the iTwin just works. And you can get one if you win our August contest.