About Oliver Haslam

Is the new iMac with Retina 5K display the best Mac you can get?

by Oliver Haslam on Oct 21, 2014

The Mac Pro’s days of being Apple’s biggest and baddest Mac may be numbered, even with that redesign that everyone either loves or hates. Whether it looks like a trash can or not, the Mac Pro has always been the most desirable Mac on the market.

Well, it was.

When Apple showed the new iMac with Retina 5K display to the world everything changed. Not only does the new iMac boast that gorgeous 5K screen, but while that would once be its only claim to fame, the new iMac is more than a one trick pony. The new iMac has plenty of bite to go with its bark.

Speaking of the event, did anyone notice the graphic Apple flashed a couple of times that showed its product line up from the Apple Watch up to the new iMac? Did you notice what was conspicuous by its absence? If the Apple Watch is the beginning of Apple’s new product lineup, you would expect the Mac Pro to be at the other end. But it wasn’t.

Telling? Read More

 

Prompt 2 review: the best SSH client for iOS

by Oliver Haslam on Oct 12, 2014

The iPad can’t be used for real work, can it?

Even after all this time, there is still some debate about whether the iPad can be used as a real computer. I’d argue that even the iPhone can prevent me from having to pick up one of my Macs, especially now we have the larger screens courtesy of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

To me though, it’s not so much about the hardware, but rather the software that runs on it that will decide whether any iOS device is up to the task. The App Store is littered with word processors of all kinds, apps for shoving numbers into spreadsheets and even plenty of software that will help you give a presentation on a projector. That’s all well and good, but for me real work starts with a command line and an FTP server. Thankfully, Panic has my back on both counts.

Both Transmit and Prompt have been born out of the hard work that goes on inside Panic, and the latter has received a hefty update very recently indeed. So hefty in fact that this new 2.0 version is a whole new app that requires purchasing all over again and at $9.99, it’s not the cheapest app on the App Store.

But it is one of the best. Read More

 

iOS 8’s battery shaming is a double-edged sword

by Oliver Haslam on Sep 24, 2014

As is always the case every time a new iPhone is released, or a major iteration of its software pops up on Apple’s servers, the planet goes into meltdown about battery life. It’s almost as predictable as Apple’s iPhone release schedule, and it’s getting old.

I was already pondering how Apple’s newly released iOS 8 was performing for people when I read iMore’s post covering its new battery shaming feature. Rene does a great job explaining how iOS 8 monitors app usage and then plots out a percentage of the battery drain that app has caused. The reasons for that drain are plenty, and the important thing to remember is that they’re not all bad. Read More

 

Three days with the iPhone 6

by Oliver Haslam on Sep 22, 2014

The months leading to the announcement of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus seemed to drag on and on, but the week following flew by. Within seven short days of reserving my iPhone 6 at my local Apple Store, I had it in my hands. It’s here. And it’s lovely.

Backing up for a second, it’s worth noting that I wasn’t one of those people that was hankering for a new iPhone. I certainly wasn’t desperate for one that was a great deal larger than my iPhone 5. That phone had been with me for two years, day in and day out. It felt like part of the family, and I’ll almost miss it now it’s gone.

It’s gone because I took advantage of my two-year contract’s expiration in order to get a new iPhone. More specifically, a 64GB Space Grey iPhone 6.

This isn’t a review, by the way. It’s a largely incoherent collection of thoughts after a weekend with what will probably be Apple’s best selling iPhone ever. There are plenty of awesome reviews out there if that’s your cup of tea.

So let’s get started with my story. Read More

 

Automation favorite Launch Center Pro 2.3 released with IFTTT integration & more

by Oliver Haslam on Jun 11, 2014

In the burgeoning world of iOS automation, Launch Center Pro is king. What may initially look like just a grid of icons soon turns into a world of never-ending possibilities as soon as you scratch away the surface of an app that has become the center of many iOS users’ workflows. In short, Launch Center Pro is the app to install on your iPhone or indeed, iPad.

So when it was announced that a new version was in the works, Launch Center Pro 2.3, everyone took notice. Today, that update is finally in the App Store for all to enjoy and, if we’re being honest, they could have easily sold this as a 3.0 release, rather than the 2.3 moniker it has taken on.

If you crave new ways to make your iOS device the true center of your digital and online life, then you’re going to love the new Launch Center Pro, complete with IFTTT integration and more…

Read More

 

Quickminder: create reminders with no fuss, no muss

by Oliver Haslam on May 28, 2014

Reminder apps are fast becoming the new Twitter app in that it seems everyone is having a go at making one, and the App Store is full to the brim with both some great alternatives to the stock iOS solution. Unfortunately, it’s also littered with some downright poor ones.

A reminder app is a very personal choice, too. Some people will love one app while others will declare another to be the one and only app to use for making sure you don’t forget things. While we’re fans of the likes of Omnifocus and Things, it’s safe to say that both apps can sometimes be overkill for many, and downright madness for others.

Which means that reminder apps can still thrive in an area dominated by the two aforementioned apps along with a handful of smaller solutions. One of our new favorites, quickminder, has found a niche for itself thanks to its blazing speed and luscious looks. And yes, that’s their lack of capitalization, not ours. Read More

 

Review: the iQi wireless iPhone charger

by Oliver Haslam on Mar 29, 2014

Wireless charging has long been one of technology’s Holy Grails. Being able to charge your devices without them having to be tethered to a power outlet would undoubtedly change the way we work, but seeing as we’re still quite some ways away from having electricity beamed to our smartphones and tablets, we’ll have to make do with the next best thing – charging plates.

Many phones support what they like to call wireless charging, but as the pedantic amongst us would point point out, that’s not strictly accurate. After all,  that charging plate still needs a wire! Get beyond that hangup though, and wireless charging is actually pretty cool even in its current state. Putting your tablet or smartphone on a pad and having it start charging is impressive enough, but unfortunately Apple still isn’t up for it. Neither the iPad nor iPhone support wireless charging out of the box, and existing third-party solutions need big cases that come with the required technology built-in, which is far from ideal. Wireless charging should get out of the way, not make itself unmissable.

Enter the iQi wireless charging adapter… Read More

 

How to get 3GB of free OneDrive storage (and how to fix it if it doesn’t work)

by Oliver Haslam on Feb 24, 2014

As part of Microsoft’s rebranding of its SkyDrive cloud storage solution to the arguably much better “OneDrive,” the Redmond firm has set about something of a charm offensive. In an attempt to try and take users away from the hugely awesome Dropbox, Microsoft has already given away 100GB of free storage to the first 100,000 people to sign into the new OneDrive, but if you weren’t in on that action then fear not, because you can also snag 3GB of space for absolutely nothing. And that’s on top of the 7GB that they offer up right out of the gate.

In order to get your slice of the free cloud-based pie, all you need to do is install one of Microsoft’s OneDrive mobile apps – the iOS one, preferably – and enable one little feature. In all honesty it’s a feature you’re going to want to enable anyway, because Microsoft is giving away 3GB of free storage to anyone that turns on automatic uploading of their Camera Roll.

Now you may be saying the same thing that we said. Why would you want to do that if you already use Dropbox? Well, here’s why… Read More

 

With iOS 7, are we seeing a less confident, more malleable Apple?

by Oliver Haslam on Jan 25, 2014

Time was once when Apple was infamous for not giving its users choice. Steve Jobs himself famously said that consumers didn’t know what they wanted, and that it was Apple’s job to tell them, and he was often right. It was this confidence, some may say arrogance, that made Apple so sure of its designs. So absolutely convinced that it was on the right path. And arguably, it’s why it has been so successful over the last ten or so years.

But things are changing inside Apple. Since Steve Jobs’ death and the handing over of the reigns to the unflappable Tim Cook, Apple has been going through something of a metamorphosis, and everyone has seen how the company has changed. Countless people have written about how Apple isn’t the same company since its co-founder and visionary left it to somewhat more pragmatic minds, and the evidence that they’re right simply keeps on mounting. Read More

 

That syncing feeling: why don’t iPad and iPhone versions of the same game share game progress often enough?

by Oliver Haslam on Jan 1, 2014

Games are fun. Judging by both the paid-for and free app charts in the App Store, they’re also extremely popular. A look at the top-grossing apps on the iPad shows that 9 of the top 10 (in the UK store) are games. The odd one out is a newspaper, oddly enough. If you look outside the top 10 list, the trend continues throughout the chart.

With gaming clearly so popular on the iPad, and indeed the iPhone, developers are rightly beginning to throw considerable resources at creating some truly impressive iOS games. The likes of XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Oceanhorn are effectively console or handheld games that run on a smartphone or tablet. Both are a far cry from the games we used to play on our mobile devices. Does anyone remember Snake on the Nokia phones of old? Ahh, fond memories indeed.

For all the increased attention that game development on iOS has received over the last couple of years, and with both big names and smaller independent developers bringing some excellent titles to the platform, there is still something lacking. We’re being treated to games that look absolutely stunning on the latest hardware and voice acting as well as story building have both improved dramatically of late, but there’s one issue remaining. One that’s become all too apparent to me as I’ve started playing games on an iPad mini (with Retina display, of course) as well as my iPhone. That issue is syncing.

The syncing of game progress, to be precise… Read More

 

iDB holiday gift guide: Oliver’s picks

by Oliver Haslam on Dec 18, 2013

We’re now firmly into that time of year where we all start panicking. Christmas is supposed to be a joyful time. A time for bringing family and friends together for a good party and far too much eating. But alas, before all that can happen there’s the hard work that comes with buying gifts, and that’s why we at iDB are doing our utmost to take the stress out of buying gifts for the geek in your life.

As Cody has already pointed out, this is the second annual gift guide, and we’re hoping that it will be as useful for you reading it as it was for us as we wrote it. I may not be the first to share my gifting tips here, but hopefully I’ve still got a few ideas up my sleeve that haven’t already been chosen.

Let’s find out, shall we? That sounds like a plan… Read More

 

In Motorola’s Moto G phone, Apple’s iPhone 4S has more than met its match

by Oliver Haslam on Dec 18, 2013

Apple has a problem. It’s not a problem that pertains to its high-end iPhone 5s, and it’s not even a problem with the mid-range, somewhat superfluous iPhone 5c. It’s actually the iPhone 4S that is an issue for Apple. Sitting at the bottom of the company’s smartphone range and being offered for peanuts if not free, the iPhone 4S was previously thought of as a rather capable budget handset. And it still is.

The problem that Apple now faces is that all those cheap Android phones that we’ve all laughed at over the years are starting to get a bit big for their shoes. In fact, some are downright great handsets, with one in particular doing its best to shake up the way we think about smartphones and what we should be paying for them.

I am, of course, talking about the Motorola Moto GRead More

 

Facebook is testing video ads in News Feed: this is how it looks

by Oliver Haslam on Dec 17, 2013

We told you last week about a Facebook for iOS update that gave the social network the ability to automatically play videos right inside our timelines. Similar to how videos begin to play in Instagram as soon as they’re scrolled to, Facebook has decided to bring the feature to Facebook proper, and as Cody has already told us all, there’s no way to stop it.

Which we thought was a bit odd. That is, until the other shoe dropped and Facebook’s master plan fell into place: video ads.

Now Facebook has published a post on its “Facebook for Business” news page in which it explains how auto-playing videos – and ads – work, as well as offering up an example for those of us yet to be (un)fortunate enough to witness them in our timelines… Read More

 

Is iOS 7 battery life getting you down? These tips may just help

by Oliver Haslam on Sep 22, 2013

It’s a situation we seem to find ourselves in with each iOS update, yet we always seem to be surprised when it happens. Alas, it seems that iOS 7 has left many of us with the same battery problems that plagued almost every other big point-0 release of the operating system that powers the iPhone and iPad.

Anyone with a long memory will remember that we had your back when iOS 5 was causing chaos with iPhone 4S batteries a couple of years ago, and with iPhones the world over seemingly unable to hold a charge as long as they used to, we thought it might be time to offer one or two tips on trying to eek as many hours out of a charge as possible.

So, without further ado, let’s get started turning things off… Read More

 

Will the iPhone get its own Mac Pro moment?

by Oliver Haslam on Jul 7, 2013

There’s no argument that the Mac Pro was in need of some love and in fact, we’d argue that it’s been overdue some attention for quite some time now. We’d hoped that Apple would offer some signs that the Mac Pro was still in their hearts at this year’s WWDC, but we never invisaged something like what Phil Schiller finally announced on-stage. It was a wow moment the likes of which we don’t recall since the original iPhone introduction.

Which got us thinking.

With iPhones being released each year, and with leaks almost commonplace when it comes to Apple’s suppliers, are we in danger of growing bored with Apple’s iPhone? Perhaps more accurately, are we no longer capable of being surprised by a newly announced smartphone from Apple? Read More

 

What would it take for you to upgrade from your iPhone 5?

by Oliver Haslam on Jul 6, 2013

It’s arguably the worst kept secret in modern technology. In fact, it’s hard to really call it a secret anymore, because anyone with even a passing knowledge of smartphones will know that Apple tends to announce and release new iPhones around August/September/October time.

That’s why rumors start to really heat up around now, and photos of supposed screens, random cables attachments and claimed rear covers begin cropping up with increasing frequency. It’s as predictable as night turning to day, and we love it.

One of the perennial questions though is one that I’m being asked on a regular basis, and not just by techy types. The question is a simple one: what will Apple announce and will I want to buy it? Read More

 

How much is too much for mobile games?

by Oliver Haslam on Jun 19, 2013

I was going to write this post when everything was raw, soon after the news had developed and the internet was awash with people seemingly frothing at the mouth. Frothing, apparently, for one of two reasons.

Firstly, we had the people frothing because “ZOMG, 20 dollars for an iPad game!!!!.” Apparently anything the wrong side of free is just about the developers trying to squeeze money out of their hard work. Because, well, it’s their living.

Then secondly, there were the polar opposites. People screaming back, apparently oblivious to the fact they were wasting their time, claiming that developers deserve to be paid and that free to play games have ruined the App Store, caused world hunger and possibly even kicked a kitten once.

The truth though, as is so often the case, is somewhere in-between… Read More

 

Calm down, it’s only a beta

by Oliver Haslam on Jun 15, 2013

Now that Apple’s iOS 7 is out of the bag, everyone seems to have an opinion on whether it hits the mark. If there was one word we would use to describe Apple’s latest version of its iPhone, iPad and iPod touch software it would probably be ‘polarizing‘ and with good reason. After all, iOS 7 is undoubtedly the biggest change to iOS since the iPhone was introduced all those years ago.

But one thing does appear to be getting lost in all the hysteria surrounding iOS 7. One thing that people do seem to be forgetting not just when forging their opinions on Apple’s new direction, but when condemning existing App Store apps with poor reviews due to compatibility.

Calm down dear, it’s only a beta… Read More

 

Apple sticks it to cheaters with Game Center on iOS 7

by Oliver Haslam on Jun 15, 2013

All the talk about iOS 7 is, rightly or wrongly, revolving around the aesthetic changes that Apple has made, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of alterations under the hood. Game Center, a feature often ignored by many, is receiving some much needed love with this update and those pesky cheaters are top of the agenda.

Whilst adding new Game Center features that aim to make recognizing cheaters as easy as possible for developers, Apple is also adding other development tools that will make the whole Game Center experience better as a whole. Improved leaderboards and challenges are just two of the changes coming in iOS 7.

With rampant cheating and high scores that have obviously tampered with, Game Center is set to receive its biggest overhaul yet, and most people won’t even notice what’s changed… Read More

 

Steve Jobs originally didn’t want to enter the e-book market

by Oliver Haslam on Jun 15, 2013

In a dose of irony that shouldn’t be lost on anyone and at a time when Apple’s Eddy Cue is being hauled before the U.S. Department of Justice in Manahattan, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services has admitted that Apple co-founder and then CEO Steve Jobs didn’t even want to sell e-books in the first place.

Speaking whilst testifying during the ongoing price fixing case yesterday, Cue said that when first approached about the idea of launching iBooks, Steve Jobs was not keen on it, leaving Cue to bide his time before broaching the subject again.

In fact, it was only with the release of the iPad fast approaching that Jobs realized that iBooks may be a good idea after all, and the rest as they say, is history… Read More

 
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