About Oliver Haslam

iCloud Photo Sharing: one of Apple’s best kept secrets

by Oliver Haslam on Mar 2, 2015

If you’re a frequent reader then you may remember my thoughts on Apple’s iCloud Photo Library beta and my lack of faith in Apple and its ability to keep my photos safe. Nobody wants to lose photographs of their kids or loved ones because Apple’s cloud solution had a meltdown one day.

And I just don’t have any expectation of that not happening at some point.

During my time spent testing iCloud Photo Library I rediscovered one feature that I had actually forgotten about since the days of the iOS 7 betas. It was as feature that I never made great use of at the time because some key members of my family didn’t have iPhones, but now that they do, I decided to revisit it.

The feature I am talking about is iCloud Photo Sharing, and it’s really rather good. Read More

 

Tim Cook: there is no reason why you would have to choose between privacy and security

by Oliver Haslam on Feb 28, 2015

Apple CEO Tim Cook is on the final leg of his tour of Isreal and Europe and has been speaking to UK publication The Telegraph about a range of things including Apple customers’ privacy and of all things, terrorism.

Known for his unusual stance on privacy – one which doesn’t jive with other high profile tech executives who are happy to share everything about you – Cook told the publication during an interview that he feels people’s information is being “trafficked around” in ways that they just don’t yet understand. Read More

 

The case for user accounts on iOS: my two-year-old

by Oliver Haslam on Feb 25, 2015

Google just this week released iOS and Android versions of its YouTube apps that are specifically tailored for kids. On the face of it, and especially to those not in possession of a little bundle of joy or two, the move may seem a bit superfluous. If you do happen to have a two-year-old that’s obsessed with watching Thomas the Tank Engine videos though, it’ll make absolutely perfect sense.

In fact, mine loves using the iPad in general, not just for catching up on what latest shenanigans Thomas and his band of merry locomotives have managed to get themselves into. He has games that revolve around Thomas, or Peppa Pig for that matter. He likes to use the app that lets him tap parts of an image and paint it. Sort of like those felt-lined things we used to color in with markers when we were kids. Or at least we did in the UK.

Regardless of whether you had the pleasure of not having to worry about staying between the lines or not, there’s little argument that kids enjoy an iPad, and mine certainly enjoys the iPad 2. I didn’t buy it specifically for him by the way, I’m not that bad. It was handed down for his enjoyment and no doubt subsequent destruction at the hands of a cup of juice. He almost enjoys it too much, but that’s a discussion for another time.

What I want to discuss right now is the lack of user accounts on iOS devices. Read More

 

Review: RHA MA750i earphones

by Oliver Haslam on Feb 23, 2015

Music can be a very personal choice, and the same goes for the hardware that we use to enjoy it.

Just take a look at the sheer number of options on the table when looking to buy a new set of earphones. Taking price out of the equation for now, it’s clear that everyone has different tastes based on what they are looking for from earphones. Do they want the best sound quality that money can buy, or do they want something with a logo on the side that is going to make them look cool in front of their mates? What about design – do they want bright colors and patterns or do they want something understated?

Since choosing earphones isn’t simply a case of picking the best sounding option at a price you can afford, just browsing the myriad of earphones on Amazon can be daunting to say the least, with many simply resorting to choosing something with a name they know or the best looking specifications. What they need is a good, solid recommendation.

So before we go any further, here it is. Buy the RHA MA750i. Read More

 

You need to enable two-factor authentication everywhere right now

by Oliver Haslam on Feb 13, 2015

You just can’t take security too seriously these days, because even if you don’t think your personal information is all that interesting to others, you’re probably wrong. Whether it’s people selling your banking data or trawling your emails for ways to get into all of your social media accounts, you really don’t want anyone having access to your data when they don’t have your permission.

Recent high profile so-called hacks have highlighted the need for improved personal online security, with numerous celebrities having their personal photographs stolen and then leaked online. It transpired that the photos had been acquired via compromised iCloud accounts, and with the move to iCloud Photo Library and the soon to be released Photos app for the Mac, we’re likely to have more and more of our digital lives sat on Apple’s servers.

Throw the data Google has into the mix, especially if you use Gmail, and things can get scary, fast.

Strong passwords are obviously the way to go here, but that isn’t always going to be enough to stop bad people from doing bad things, especially if they manage to get that password via another compromised service. But you’re OK, because you don’t re-use passwords, right? Right. Read More

 

Apple is right to ditch marquee features for stability and fixes

by Oliver Haslam on Feb 11, 2015

We reported a couple of days ago that Apple was set to launch iOS 9 with few, if any marquee features, instead focusing on fixing bugs and adding stability to a platform that has seen such rapid iteration over the last few years that it is almost unrecognizable from iOS 1.0. It seems, if reports are to be believed, that Apple is doubling down on stability.

And about time too. Read More

 

Will you trust iCloud with your memories?

by Oliver Haslam on Feb 6, 2015

The big news around the Apple blogs right now is the arrival of the first beta of Apple’s new Photos application for the Mac. Coming as part of the OS X 10.10.3 beta of Yosemite, Photos is the long awaited replacement for the aging iPhoto and to some extent, Aperture. In a world where we create gigabytes of photos each and every year, in part thanks to our iPhones, having a way to keep those images organized is vitally important to many of us. Apple thinks Photos, in combination with iCloud, is how we’re going to do just that.

But is it right? Read More

 

The iPad is a real computer

by Oliver Haslam on Feb 6, 2015

If anyone has been following along over the last few months then you’ll probably know that I’ve been having a bit of a love-in with my iPad mini. After initially suffering the same fate as my other iPads and being all but discarded after the initial novelty wore off, the iPad mini with Retina – now renamed by Apple as the iPad mini 2 – has become my main computer.

And yes, I just called the iPad a computer.

So when I started reading Federico Viticci’s iPad Air 2 review, I was already interested to read how he found the switch from an iPad mini to the iPad Air form factor. Turns out he likes it, and I find myself wondering whether my next iPad should be of the larger variety, too. I’m still not convinced, but with the Airs getting thinner and lighter and with ever decreasing bezels, it’s something worthy of serious consideration after falling in love with the mini’s super portable size. Read More

 

Opinion: neither the iPad Pro nor 12-inch MacBook Air make much sense to me

by Oliver Haslam on Jan 30, 2015

There’s a lot going on at Apple right now. Record quarters aside, there is a lot to be hopeful for as 2015 gets into full swing, and not just because the fabled Apple Watch is finally on the horizon. If the rumors are to be believed we could see both the iPad Pro and 12-inch MacBook Air some time in the next eleven months, and both have plenty of people excited.

The iPad Pro story is one that has gone on for years now, and with photos of supposed parts for the new tablet starting to crop up, it’s looking more and more likely that not only is the thing real, but it’s not too far away either.

The same can be said about the 12-inch MacBook Air. Again, photographs of what it is claimed are parts for the unannounced product have started to circulate around the internet, and the noises that it might only have one USB Type-C connector rather than a MagSafe for power have meant that there have been plenty of column inches and podcast hours afforded to the subject.

But what is all the excitement really about, and more importantly, is it justified? Read More

 

iDB holiday gift guide: Oliver’s picks

by Oliver Haslam on Dec 18, 2014

Now I’m not sure if you folks have noticed, but we’re currently hurtling towards Christmas. It’s not so much crept up on us as jumped out from behind a pillar, pulled a funny face and shouted “oogabooga” at the top of its lungs. Christmas is just around the corner, and it’s time to get those gifts sorted out.

If you’re much more organized than my good self, then you’re probably reading this with a decidedly smug grin on your face sipping on some egg nog, but if like me you just can’t bring yourself to do Christmas shopping until the week in which the day actually occurs then you may just be sat panicking at the thought of coming up with some gift ideas.

And that’s where we come in. Read More

 

Moving into the post-PC era

by Oliver Haslam on Oct 27, 2014

Ever since the first iPad was introduced by Steve Jobs way back in 2010 there has been the argument about whether it is just there to be a media consumption device, or can actually be used for what PC users seem to be so determined to call ‘real work.’

Steve Jobs knew, or at least he hoped that iPads would eventually replace computers as we know them. When launching the first iPad he spoke of his new tablet as a car, and the computers that came before it as trucks.

I’m trying to think of a good analogy. When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks. But as people moved more towards urban centers, people started to get into cars. I think PCs are going to be like trucks. Less people will need them.

He knew the transition wouldn’t be easy, and he was right. Read More

 

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

 
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