Archive for June, 2011

Podcast #8: Project Spartan, Hardware Durability, Divvy

2011-06-21 by Podcast. 0 comments

This is the eighth episode of the Ask Different Podcast, a podcast about Apple and related technologies created by members of the Ask Different community.

Your hosts this week are Kyle CroninJason Salaz, and Nathan Greenstein.

  • We begin by bringing you some podcast news: We have created an ad for the podcast (Lion-themed!) and posted it in the Community Promotions Ads meta post. In order for the ad to show up on the Ask Different homepage, we need you to vote for it! If you like the show, please take a look at the meta post and give our ad an upvote.
  • The Stack Exchange Shop is now open. You can buy hoodiesshirtsbeer steins, and more bearing the Stack Exchange, Stack Overflow, Super User, and Server Fault logos. We hope to see some Ask Different merchandise soon.
  • Also in Stack Exchange news: A new button! Not one that you can buy; one that you can click. All Stack Exchange sites now have, right along with Facebook and Twitter buttons, a button to share a question to your LinkedIn stream.
  • Continuing on the subject of social network integration, we discuss the sinister side of Facebook’s sharing buttons. This leads us to compare other tracking services, like Google Analytics, to Facebook’s. and to an overall comparison of Facebook’s and Google’s security track records. And for those who don’t like being tracked across the Web, we recommend Ghostery, a free browser extension to notify you of such tracking, and optionally block it. Disconnect is another option for Chrome users.
  • We discuss the increasing importance of a having a good password on your Apple account. As Apple begins tying more and more to this account, especially with the introduction of iCloud, it is more important than ever to have a secure password on your Apple account. We then discuss the limitations of entering strong passwords on mobile devices, and things Apple could do to make it easier to be more secure.
  • Moving back to Facebook, we discuss the recently-discovered Project Spartan. With it, Facebook will be attempting to challenge Apple’s App Store with their own. Except that the Facebook app and its apps are used in Safari on your iOS device. Can Facebook’s HTML5 app store and apps take down Apple’s App Store?
  • Google offers a service called Google Sync that provides push GMail, calendar, and contacts synchronization for mobile devices through the Exchange protocol. The service has been recently updated with support for searching mail on the server, accepting/declining calendar events, and sending mail from multiple addresses.
  • We share the surprise news that Apple is now selling unlocked iPhone 4 handsets. We discuss the target market that would pay the high price, and whether future unlocked iPhones might offer the ability to switch between AT&T and Verizon.
  • Kyle lays out his gadget history, and tells the story of his experience with a string of fragile iPhone 4’s. Jason and Nathan chime in with their own experiences about Apple hardware (including previous-gen iPhones), and we compare other brands’ durability to Apple’s.
  • Our question of the week is Why do I have to drag my new apps into the Applications folder?, asked by Drew on June 4th. We talk about the way Mac OS X handles applications as a single package, and how this approach is better than the approaches Windows and Linux take, especially for non-administrative users. We also touch on whether a non-administrator can install apps from the Mac App Store.
  • Our app of the week is Divvy, Jason’s and Nathan’s favorite window manager. We talk about what Divvy and similar apps are useful for, and discuss Mac OS X’s built-in window management capabilities. Divvy is available on the Mac App Store.

This episode was recorded on Sunday, June 19th. You can subscribe to this podcast via RSS or iTunes. If you have any feedback or questions you’d like for us to answer on air, leave a comment on this post or e-mail us at


Podcast #7: More WWDC, Application Launchers, Soulver

2011-06-15 by Podcast. 0 comments

This is the seventh episode of the Ask Different Podcast, an unofficial podcast created by members of the Ask Different community about Apple and related technologies.

Your hosts this week are Kyle CroninJason Salaz, and Nathan Greenstein.

  • Last week was WWDC, and keeping up with the coverage of the keynote was a very intense task. Not to mention the active discussion we had with our fellow Ask Different chatters. We discuss the act of covering the keynote, or more specifically attempting to keep up with the coverage across at least 4 or 5 websites, and keeping up with all of the details flowing continuously for over 2 hours straight. We also delve into what we expect to see as all the new features begin to release, and where we would like to see as time goes on.
  • On Tuesday, Steve Jobs presented the next major architectural work by Apple to the Cupertino City Council. We discuss the so-called “Apple Mothership” building to be worked on for the next 4 years and the consideration that is sorely lacking in too many other architectural endeavors.
  • We know that as part of iOS 5, Apple will make Twitter functionality a first-class citizen with pop-overs including location sharing, single sign-on functionality, and a dedicated Twitter account field in Contacts. What we have recently learned is that additional social networks will become first class citizens and be added as contact fields in the Address Book.
  • Yet another iOS 5 feature has received more details: Wireless iPad 2 Mirroring via AirPlay. We discuss the possibilities of utilizing an Apple TV in a conference room in order to simplify the process of presentations, and how to immediately greatly improve the quality of presentations, notes, and interactivity.
  • Continuing with the WWDC hangover, we discuss the state of launcher applications, and the possibilities after Lion’s release and official debut of Launchpad. We contrast the functionality offered by Apple, and the workflow exposed by launcher apps such as QuickSilver, Alfred, and LaunchBar.
  • Our Question of the Week is Upgrade personal iPhone to iOS beta 5.0?, asked by Senseful on June 9. We discuss if they (or you!) should, or should not, and lament that we are not more involved in the Apple Development Community in order to make the leap ourselves.
  • Our App of the Week is Soulver. Soulver is a new kind of calculator. Soulver is quick, smart, clear, and flexible. Instead of making a digital analog to a standard desk calculator, Soulver allows you to write calculations as a document, each calculation allowing you to represent a specific part of the entire series of calculations. Soulver is available for Desktop Macs on the Mac App Store, and for iPad and iPhone on the iTunes App Store.

This episode was recorded on Sunday, June 12th. You can subscribe to this podcast via RSS or iTunes. If you have any feedback or questions you’d like for us to answer on air, leave a comment on this post or e-mail us at


Podcast #6: WWDC Keynote

2011-06-07 by Podcast. 0 comments

This is the sixth episode of the Ask Different Podcast, an unofficial podcast created by members of the Ask Different community about Apple and related technologies.

Your hosts this week are Kyle Cronin and Jason Salaz.

We devote this entire show to the announcements from the WWDC Keynote:

  • First up, the next version of Mac OS X, 10.7 “Lion”, will prominently feature multitouch gestures for moving between applications and invoking Mission Control and Launchpad (other new features in Lion). We discuss how we feel about Apple’s shift away from the mouse and if it means that desktop Macs will be sold with trackpads instead.
  • Based on the successful iOS App Store, the Mac App Store has proven to be a big hit with Mac users. We discuss new App Store features in Lion and highlight the success that apps like Pixelmator have had in the store.
  • Following up on our earlier discussion of the idea of the Continuous Client, we discuss how it ties in with Lion’s upcoming support for saving and resuming app state, autosave, and versioning of files.
  • We wrap up our discussion of Lion by talking about AirDrop, a way to drag and drop files from one Mac to another without needing to configure file sharing, and the “iPadification” of the new interface for the Mail app.
  • Apple also previewed some new features of the next version of iOS, iOS 5, starting with a completely redesigned notifications interface. We discuss what’s different and how it makes it easier to read and manage multiple simultaneous notifications.
  • Twitter is now deeply integrated into iOS, and features a single sign-on area in the settings. We discuss what this means for Twitter, third-party Twitter clients, and the conspicuous absence of Facebook.
  • Mobile Safari has also seen multiple improvements, including a tab bar and an Instapaper-like Reading List feature. There’s also a new to-do list app called Reminders. We discuss whether the tab bar was a good idea and the usefulness of location-based reminder alerts.
  • The Camera app has undergone significant improvement. We talk about the faster loading time, the ability to quickly take a picture without having to unlock your device, and how the volume button has even been configured to act as a shutter button!
  • The requirement to activate an iOS device through iTunes will soon be a thing of the past – iOS 5 has cut the cord and is PC-Free. We discuss what the benefit is, and how iOS has made it possible.
  • Apple has brought its Messages app to the iPad and iPod touch, and they’ve renamed it… iMessages? Yes, it’s true – we discuss use cases, the similarity to Blackberry’s BBM service, and cringe at how bad the name is.
  • Move aside Mac, Apple has re-envisioned the digital hub and it now centers around iCloud. MobileMe is being phased out as well, and the Contacts, Calendars, and Mail services are being absorbed into iCloud.
  • iCloud also offers a cloud-based backup service for iOS devices, allowing users to back up and restore without ever needing to involve a computer. We discuss the benefits of this, and the limitations Apple has placed on it.
  • Purchases made through the App Store, iBooks Store, and iTunes Store are catalogued in one place and can be downloaded and re-downloaded to all the devices on your Apple account. We discuss our disappointment at the lack of a facility to stream music, and how the new price point – free – is sure to drive adoption.
  • One More Thing… iTunes Match. For $24.99/year, you can have iCloud scan your iTunes library for music that had not been purchased through the iTunes Store. If the iTunes Store carries the file, you will be upgraded to a high-quality version. If not, iTunes will upload it to iCloud and offer the standard iTunes in the Cloud services for that music.

This episode was recorded on Monday, June 6th. You can subscribe to this podcast via RSS or iTunes. If you have any feedback or questions you’d like for us to answer on air, leave a comment on this post or e-mail us at