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iOS 9 to Gain New 'Proactive' Lifestyle Management Feature With Augmented Reality Maps

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Apple's Siri and search features may expand significantly in iOS 9, letting Apple better compete with Google's feature rich voice-based search component, Google Now. As detailed in a lengthy report from 9to5Mac, Apple is said to be working on an iOS initiative called "Proactive," integrating features like Siri, Maps, Contacts, Calendar, Passbook, and third-party apps into an expanded Spotlight search. 

Proactive will reportedly function as a search feature that's built deeply into iOS, replacing the existing Spotlight search menu (shown to the right). It may be accessed either from the top of the screen home screen as Spotlight is, or from the left of the home screen. Taking advantage of several Apple acquisitions like Spotsetter and Cue, Proactive is positioned as a lifestyle management tool. 

Proactive is said to include a dedicated search bar much like Spotlight, so the design will be instantly familiar to iOS users, and it will continue to allow searches for email content, apps, music, and more. Below the search bar, a new user interface will display unique content from apps, Contacts, and Maps, providing easily accessible information to help iOS users navigate through their daily activities. 

For example, if a user has a flight listed in her Calendar application and a boarding pass stored in Passbook, a bubble within the new Proactive screen will appear around flight time to provide quick access to the boarding pass. If a user has a calendar appointment coming up, a map view could appear with an estimated arrival time, directions, and a time to leave indicator based on traffic. Proactive will also be able to trigger push notifications to help the user avoid missing calendar events. Even with these new notifications, however, the existing Notification Center apparently isn't likely to see major changes.

Proactive is able to integrate with third-party apps as well, and it will learn which apps to display based on usage habits. Someone who checks their email right after waking up might have the email app displayed on the screen for quick access, while someone who makes a phone call at a regular time might see the Phone app pop up. Around dinner time, the feature may display restaurant suggestions and ratings for nearby eateries. 

Maps will be an important part of Proactive, helping people navigate through their days with quick access to routes and information on the places they need to be. Maps is said to be gaining transit routing features in iOS 9, and it may also be updated with a revamped in-house Points of Interest system that includes an augmented reality view for local listings and a feature called "Browse Around Me." 

With the augmented reality feature, which may or may not be ready for iOS 9, a user will potentially be able to hold up an iPhone, point it at a location on the street, and see information about the location. Pointed at a restaurant, Maps might display a menu. Pointed at a street, Maps would show the businesses located there with a virtual outline of each store. "Browse Around Me," meanwhile, is a simpler feature that may show all local points of interest on an overhead map. 

Apple's upcoming Proactive feature will integrate with third-party apps, and in iOS 9, developers may be able to access a limited Siri API called "Breadcrumbs." This feature will let Proactive and Siri index apps, but full Siri access will not be permitted due to privacy concerns. 

Today's report warns that the above mentioned features might not make it into iOS 9, or that the features listed above could be introduced as scaled-down enhancements that will improve over time.

 

New Book Explores How the iPhone Contributed to BlackBerry's Downfall

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Over the past several years, BlackBerry has gone from one of the top smartphone manufacturers to a company that's struggling to stay afloat in an increasingly competitive market. BlackBerry is hemorrhaging subscribers and losing revenue quarter after quarter as it attempts to turn the tide by focusing on marketing secure devices and software to its enterprise customers. 

An upcoming book by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff, Losing the Signal, explores the events that led to the rise and fall of BlackBerry, and an interesting excerpt was shared by The Wall Street Journal today, covering the iPhone's contributions towards BlackBerry's (then known as RIM) failure. 

As we've previously learned from Google execs, the launch of the iPhone, which stood apart from all other smartphones on the market at the time, took everyone by surprise. Not only was the iPhone incredibly different from its competitors, it also had features that carriers had previously denied other manufacturers like a full web browser and later, an App Store that had no carrier ties. 

blackberryiphone

Image via CIO


One of RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis' first comments was "These guys are really, really good," but despite that fact, RIM failed to see the iPhone as a threat due to its lack of security and the fact that it had no keyboard, features RIM execs thought would make it unappealing to RIM's core consumers.

If the iPhone gained traction, RIM's senior executives believed, it would be with consumers who cared more about YouTube and other Internet escapes than efficiency and security. RIM's core business customers valued BlackBerry's secure and efficient communication systems. Offering mobile access to broader Internet content, says Mr. Conlee, "was not a space where we parked our business."

RIM executives did not understand the iPhone and were "incredulous" that people were purchasing it, realizing too late that form had become as important as function in the eyes of consumers. In an effort to combat the threat of the iPhone, RIM teamed up with Verizon to create a competing touch-based phone -- the Storm. 

Verizon pressured RIM into speeding up development on the phone, resulting in a product that was riddled with bugs and issues when it launched in 2008. Despite the flaws, the product was heavily marketed and RIM sold 1 million in two months, leading to a lot of unhappy customers who wanted to return or exchange their devices. 

The Storm was a spectacular failure that impacted RIM's relationship with Verizon, ruined its reputation, and cost upwards of $100 million. After the failure, the company was demoralized and at a crossroads, unsure of where to take the company going forward and how to compete with the iPhone and other smartphones in a landscape that was radically different from what the company knew. 

RIM was unable to fully recover from failure of the Storm and find its footing, eventually leading to the path that it's on today. "The Storm failure made it clear we were not the dominant smartphone company anymore, said RIM co-CEO Jim Balsille. "We're grappling with who we are because we can't be who we used to be anymore, which sucked...It's not clear what the hell to do." 

The full excerpt from the book is worth a read and can be found over at The Wall Street Journal. The book itself is coming out on May 26 and can be pre-ordered from Amazon for $21.

 

Apple Working on Split-Screen Multitasking, Multi-User Support for iPad

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We've had previous rumors suggesting Apple is working on split-screen multitasking capabilities for the iPad, and hints of the feature are buried within iOS 8, but thus far multitasking has not made its way into the hands of customers. In a post covering information on future iPad upgrades, 9to5Mac confirms split-screen multitasking is still in the works and on schedule to be released as part of iOS 9. 

Split-screen multitasking will display two apps side-by-side on the iPad's screen or two views of the same app, allowing users to see multiple documents in Pages at the same time, for example. As was first discovered in code buried within iOS 8, apps will be able to be arranged in multiple views, covering 1/2, 1/3, and 2/3 of the screen in the latest iteration. 

Concept for split-screen multitasking (not based on specific rumors)


9to5Mac warns that though the split-screen multitasking feature is slated for inclusion in iOS 9, it could be removed before the update's debut at the Worldwide Developers Conference if it is not ready in time as it was originally developed for the upcoming "iPad Pro." 9to5Mac previously said the multi-tasking feature would be included in iOS 8. 

Apple is also said to be working on a highly anticipated feature that customers have requested for years -- multi-user login support. This will allow multiple users to have unique profiles on a single iPad, with individual access to apps and documents. Multi-user support will not be ready when iOS 9 launches in the fall, but it could be released later in 2015 alongside the iPad Pro or in 2016. 

Both split-screen multitasking and multi-user login support are features that will be added to Apple's rumored larger-screened 12-inch iPad Pro, which may also include features like a USB-C port, a stylus, and a pressure-sensitive Force Touch display. The tablet, internally numbered "J98" and "J99" to represent Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + Cellular models, will launch in late 2015, according to the latest rumors. Apple is said to be working to finish software and source hardware components for the device.

Sources have confirmed that Apple is testing jumbo-sized iPads internally codenamed "J98″ and "J99," which are apparently larger versions of the Wi-Fi-only and Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad Air 2, save for additional speaker holes.

Given the large size of the iPad Pro's display, some apps may be redesigned to accommodate the larger screen real estate available on the 12-inch tablet, with Apple rumored to be working on new designs for Siri and Notification Center. Features tailored to the iPad Pro could work in the same way as features tailored to the iPhone 6 Plus, which has a unique layout in landscape mode to account for a larger display size.

   

Universal Releases First Trailer for 'Steve Jobs' Movie

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After filming began earlier in January, and a few photo leaks soon thereafter, not much had been heard surrounding Universal Picture's Steve Jobs movie. Today, however, the studio released the first official trailer for the new movie. 

The trailer is mostly a single shot of Michael Fassbender as Jobs, with cast voice overs providing snippets and teases of conversations regarding Jobs' true legacy at Apple. While it doesn't reveal much that wasn't already known, the one minute teaser provides a handful of closer looks as Michael Fassbender, Seth Rogen, Kate Winslet, and Jeff Daniels as Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Joanna Hoffman, and John Sculley, respectively. 


The movie has faced turmoil over the years as it began development, with multiple actorsup for the titular role and even a change of studios due to scheduling conflicts between Danny Boyle, the film's director, and Sony. This year, as the film's October 9 release date grew nearer, casting calls and set photos began popping up online, even going so far as to offer fans the first glimpse of Fassbender in full costume as Jobs.

 

Next-Generation iPhone Again Rumored to Have 12-Megapixel Camera

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Kevin King, IHS Technology Research Director for China, claimed on Chinese microblogging service Weibo that Apple's next-generation iPhone will feature a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera with smaller pixels (via G4Games), corroborating the same prediction made by well-informed KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo earlier this week. 

Apple has used an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera sensor since the iPhone 4s was released in late 2011, so the megapixel bump will be the first in nearly four years if the pair of analysts are correct. Prior to that, the iPhone 4 had a 5-megapixel camera and the iPhone 3GS had a 3-megapixel shooter. Given that megapixels don't always matter, however, software improvements are often more important for image quality. 

Last November, well-known Apple pundit John Gruber of Daring Fireball said the next iPhone could have "the biggest camera jump ever" with a dual-lens system that delivers DSLR-quality imagery, but a later report dismissed the rumor since Apple would need to redesign the current chassis of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which is unlikely for this year's refresh based on the history of "S" models. 

Apple's next-generation iPhones are rumored to retain 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screen sizes, powered by an A9 processor with 2GB of LPDDR4 RAM and featuring Force Touch, improved Touch ID recognition, gesture control support, an additional microphone near the speakers for improved voice quality, a new rose gold color option, internal mechanical design changes and more.

   

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