Apple just celebrated the 10th birthday of its famed iTunes, which is easily the most popular source for buying digital content. Still, I regularly field questions from my family and friends about how iTunes works. These range from basic questions about syncing to storing music in the cloud and sharing music with family. And iTunes also has a lot of features most people don’t know exist. This week, I rounded up some ways to improve the way you use iTunes.Digital Allowance
If you aren’t thrilled at the prospect of setting your credit-card number as the default payment on your kid’s iTunes account, a monthly allowance might be a better solution. From the iTunes Store home page on your computer, select “Send iTunes Gifts” on the right, then “Learn More About Gifting” and scroll to the bottom to find allowance settings. You can set the allowance in amounts ranging from $ 10 to $ 50.
Recipients must have an Apple ID, but you can set up an Apple ID for them at the same time. You can decide to send the allowance right away or wait until the next month, on either the first or the day of the month you set up the allowance. You also can add a personal message.Redeeming Gift Cards
Some people are thrilled to receive iTunes gift cards, but they just don’t know how to redeem them. A simple shortcut on a computer or mobile devices is to open iTunes, navigate to the iTunes Store, scroll to the very bottom of the store’s home screen and click Redeem. (On a computer, this is under Manage. In the iOS app, it’s in the bottom, center of the screen.) You’ll be asked to enter your Apple ID and then to enter your gift card or download code. If you accidentally scratched letters or numbers from your code like I did once, call or email Apple Support and they’ll help you figure it out.Gifts Without the Gift Card
Anything in the iTunes Store or Apple’s App Store can be given to another person via an email. On your computer, select the arrow beside the price and click on “Gift this.” If you’re using an Apple mobile device, select the share icon (a small square with an arrow pointing right) at the top of the screen from the store and choose “Gift.” Then enter a personal message and choose Now or Other Date to decide when the recipient gets it.
This is especially helpful for favorite games or TV shows that you want friends to start playing or watching.Sharing Libraries
Many family members or friends may find themselves frustrated by how their digital content is stored in individual libraries associated with individual Apple IDs, making it harder to share this content. While you can’t merge Apple IDs to combine libraries, you can turn on Home Sharing within your home Wi-Fi network to let various devices share content while they’re within range of the network. Turn on Home Sharing from the Advanced menu in iTunes and enter the same Apple ID on up to five computers. Likewise, you can stream content from other shared computers, or drag it onto your computer’s local library.
You also can see this shared content from iOS devices and Apple TV. Within the Music app on iOS, click the More tab in the bottom right. In the Videos app, tap the Shared button at the top. On your Apple TV, go into Settings, Computer and turn on Home Sharing, then open the Computer icon in your Apple TV’s main menu to access libraries and stream content.iCloud vs. iTunes Match
Owners of Apple products surely have heard of iCloud, but they may not use it. Some people aren’t sure how it works with music and how it differs from iTunes Match.
ICloud is a handy insurance policy against losing your iPod and all of your iTunes content along with it. Once you set up iCloud using your Apple ID, any content that you buy from the iTunes Store will show up on other devices without any syncing. Any past purchases from the iTunes Store will show up on all of your devices, too. Tapping a tiny cloud icon beside each file will pull it onto your device.
To replicate all of your content across devices, including stuff you haven’t bought from iTunes (like CDs you imported or bought elsewhere), iTunes Match will do the trick. This costs $ 25 a year and matches up to 25,000 songs. From iTunes on your computer, open the Store menu, select “Turn on iTunes Match,” enter your Apple ID and password and click Subscribe. On iOS devices, open Settings, Music and turn on iTunes Match.
ITunes Match will work on up to 10 devices, and it auto-scans for newly purchased content so you have it on all devices.Getting Rid of Content
It may seem like everything in your iTunes library is stuck there for good. But if you’re tired of keeping unwanted files, like episodes of Season 2′s “Mad Men” or irritating tunes from a Christmas party playlist, the process to delete them is painless.
From your iTunes library on the computer, click the item to select it, press the delete key and click Delete Item. From here, you can opt to remove the item only from your iTunes library, which keeps the file on your computer though not in iTunes (click “Keep File”), or delete the item from your computer permanently (click “Move to Trash” and empty the Trash).
When you know how all of its features work, iTunes can be a real pleasure to use. But if you’re confused, syncing content can be a dreaded experience. If you know people who tiptoe around how to use iTunes, share this guide with them.
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Acer is clearly and closely aligned with Windows, but there’s one part of Microsoft’s strategy it’s not buying into just yet. At an event on Friday in New York — in the middle of a sea of newly-announced Windows products — company President Jim Wong told PCWorld that Acer won’t build a Windows RT tablet until Windows RT 8.1 comes out. “To be honest, there’s no value doing the current version of RT,” he said. We may not have to wait long, though: Wong also alluded to Windows RT 8.1 coming in the second half of this year.
Acer has a fairly turbulent history with Windows RT, but has repeatedly said it’s committed to building products with Microsoft’s low-powered OS. And with Windows RT 8.1, which promises to bring a number of…
Short of serving the popcorn, Magisto’s editing app can take care of the video production needs for the busy (or artistically challenged), including helping with music choices, chopping it all together and even distributing it across video albums. However, one sorely lacking feature was the ability to include photos, which the developer has just rectified in its latest update with a “smart photo feature.” After you pick your images, the system’s algorithms “choose the most compelling moments within the pictures and videos, and automatically marry them in a narrative format,” according to Magisto — even matching photo and video subject matter via AI. From there, it’ll add graphical themes, music and transitions to fill out the movie while you tend to more pressing matters. The iOS version is now at the App Store with an Android release arriving shortly, and the company said it’ll soon add morphing, image foreground / background separation and other effects. If you want more than the five images the freebie version offers, you’ll need to pay $ 18 a year for the premium app — but all that extra free time should let you go earn the bucks to pay it off.
Filed under: Software
Mophie caused a bit of a double-take by introducing not one but two rechargeable external battery cases for the iPhone 5 within a few days of each other. The Juice Pack Helium offers a sleeker body, but the Juice Pack Air, announced later, offers more stamina. I’ve been testing the latter for nearly a week now, and it lives up to Mophie’s good reputation, with a single trade-off that may or may not influence your buying decision.Long Version Info
- Battery size: 1,700 mAh
- Available colors: black, white, and red
- MSRP: $ 99.95
- Dimensions: 2.60 in x 5.54 in x 0.63 in
- Weight: 2.68 oz
The Juice Pack Air for iPhone 5 will look and feel familiar to owners of previous Mophie Juice Packs. It has a rubberized texture that makes the matte back extra grippy, a smooth black plastic band extending around the entire sides of the device, and a button on the back that lights up indicators showing how much battery is remaining. Some of the elements have shifted to make up for the new iPhone’s design: the battery indicator and activation switch are on the back, not the bottom, and the micro USB port is on the bottom surface where the Lightning port would be on an iPhone 5 without a case.
One of the few unfortunate changes caused by the iPhone 5′s redesign is the shift of the headphone port to the bottom, which is where the business end is on Mophie’s battery pack cases. That means that on this Juice Pack Air, there’s around a half-inch hole any headphones have to go through to get to the iPhone’s 3.5mm stereo port. Mophie includes an extension cable to make sure your headphones will work no matter their design, but it’s an extra bit to keep track of and potentially lose, and that’s never good.
Overall, the Juice Pack Air feels like a quality accessory, however, and all the pass-through switches and buttons work well. There’s even mesh on the front-facing speaker ports, which do enhance sound to my ear, and an appropriately wide opening on the back to accommodate the camera lens and flash without impeding mobile photography.
The Juice Pack Air claims to be able to provide around 8 more hours of 3G talk time and Internet use, 8 more hours of LTE browsing, 10 hours of Wi-Fi web, and up to 40 more hours of audio playback or 10 more hours of video. Mophie says that’s up to 100 percent the normal battery life of your iPhone 5. I happened to be able to test charging a dead iPhone 5 from a drained state with a fully-charged Juice Pack Air, however, and it only got the iPhone up to around 80 percent charge. Your mileage may vary, however, and 80 percent from a cold, dead battery that has lain empty for a while is still pretty impressive, and in everyday use I found it was as close to doubling my iPhone 5′s life as made no difference.
The Juice Pack Air gets warm while charging, but that’s nothing new and I mention it more to make new users aware than to cite it as an issue. New users should also note that the Air features pass-through charging via the supplied micro USB cable: You can plug it in overnight and the iPhone inside will charge first, with the case getting its fill afterwards. One thing missing in this version is pass-through syncing, however. That could be a problem for some, but I can’t remember the last time I’ve done a wired sync of an iOS device, so it doesn’t bother me.
The Juice Pack Air is a solid performer, which isn’t surprising, given its pedigree. It has the same general downsides as its predecessor (mostly that it adds bulk to the iPhone), and loses a few tricks. But most won’t miss the lack of pass-through syncing now that iPhones are much more autonomous devices than they were in the past. And the Air for iPhone 5 is slightly thinner than the version for iPhone 4/4S. If you need the extra power that a battery case provides, the Juice Pack Air remains the case to beat.
Kantar’s numbers for the final quarter of last year are in, and things are still looking peachy for Apple in the US smartphone market. According to the research firm, Cupertino scored 51.2-percent of smartphone sales in the states for the quarter, which drew to a close two days before Christmas. The second and third place entrants are the same as well, with Android at 44.4-percent and Microsoft’s mobile version of Windows at 2.6-percent sales. On the carrier side, AT&T scored exactly a third of smartphone sales, with Verizon close before at 32-percent, according to to Kantar’s numbers. Sprint, meanwhile, is in third with less than half of that number at 14.8-percent. More results can be found in the source link.
Source: KantarRelated Posts:
The original Fitbit first saw the light of day over four years ago, and boy how things have changed since then. Now it seems like everyone from old incumbents to ambitious upstarts have offered their own takes on the activity-tracking formula, so how does Fitbit’s newest offering stack up to the competition?The Fitbit One is…
A small, two-tone doodad that will set you back $ 99 and track your movement throughout the day. Most of the time, the black or burgundy Fitbit will live inside a similarly-colored silicone skin, and a sturdy metal clip mounted on the back keeps the Fitbit firmly attached to your clothing (the company recommends keeping it somewhere on your torso). When it’s not clipped to your person, chances are it’s bedtime and you’ve tucked it inside the black elastic armband to use as a silent alarm (more on that in a bit).
Before I ramble on for too much longer, know this: the Fitbit works like a treat. It ably tracks the number of steps I take, and its distance tracking seems to be more than adequate to boot — taking the One on one of my occasional runs saw distance counts that never strayed too far from the numbers the Nike+ GPS app offered up. The One is also smart enough to discern whether I’m just walking around or if I’m bounding up and down stairs, which then influences its appraisal of how many calories I’ve burned for the day.
The only thing that didn’t impress as much as I expected it to was the One’s oft-touted sleep tracking feature — I could never get the Fitbit to proffer an amount of time slept that matched up with how much sleep I thought I got. It’s not a dealbreaker for me, but appears I’m not the only one with this problem, and the company should really take a closer look here.What else does it do?
The Fitbit experience is only as solid as its other half — the part that takes all of that activity information and turns it into a comprehensive suite of personal analytics. The process of getting all that data linked up with your Fitbit account is dead simple, too. All it takes to get started is plug the included wireless USB dongle in, pair it with the Fitbit by way of the included software, and start moving around.
Ideally that dongle will stay in one of your USB ports indefinitely, where it will connect with the Fitbit whenever they’re in close proximity. I wasn’t having any of that though, and took to syncing it exclusively with the companion iOS app thanks to the One’s low-power Bluetooth radio — a neat feature that Android users unfortunately can’t take advantage of just yet.
Fitbit veterans can feel free to gloss over this section, but once that data is uploaded, users can view their levels of activity splayed out in graph upon graph, as well as log their food intake to see if they’re running a calorie deficit for the day. The Fitbit itself only collects a fraction of the data the service is able to keep tabs on, though. Truly motivated folks can throw information about their weight changes, blood pressure, mood, and even glucose levels into their Fitbit accounts.
One of the most pleasant surprises about this thing was the silent alarm, which worked like a charm. Once the appointed time rolls around, the Fitbit’s tiny vibration motor begins pulsing in short spurts (protip: the vibration is strong if you insert the Fitbit with its screen facing your skin). My only beef? That it stops pulsing after about 10 spurts, only to start up again a few minutes later. Sure, it always managed to rouse me from my deep and fitful spurts of slumber, but I can’t shake the feeling that a continuous vibration would do the job even better.
And then there are the touches that you’ll hardly ever notice. If its screen is off and you pick it up, the Fitbit’s display will come to life with an encouraging (if terse) message to help keep users motivated. They’re not all that compelling — think “CLIMB IT CHRIS” and “SMOOCHES CHRIS” — but it’s a testament to the sort of attention to detail that went into making the One.Now for the really annoying part
Really, if there’s one thing that irks me about using the Fitbit One, it’s having to keep up with all the little bits that come with it. I’ve been an avid user of Nike’s FuelBand for the past few months now, not so much because it’s my ideal activity-tracking solution — I’m no fan of the whole Fuel score conceit in the first place, and it’s awfully limited when it comes to functionality — but because I never really need to take it off until I want to sync it with my PC. It’s a largely self-contained system, and one I never had to spend much time fretting over.
Not so with the Fitbit One. I’ve misplaced the sleep wristband more than once these past few days which meant no silent alarm for me, and the stubby USB charging cable displayed a similar tendency to go AWOL. Oh, and it can’t actually be used to sync with the Fitbit, which strikes me as a bit of a missed opportunity. Instead, the dongle is a necessity for non-mobile syncing, as well as pushing updates to the Fitbit, so that’s another thing you’ll have to keep your eye on (I honestly have no idea where mine is right now).To buy, or not to buy?
At $ 99, it’s not the cheapest little tracking gizmo, but it’s definitely worth the premium over its little brother the Zip. I haven’t spent any considerable amount of time with the Jawbone Up (see John’s review for more on that thing), but my week with the Fitbit has been enough for me to stick my once-trusty Fuelband into a drawer. If you’re looking for a neat (and unabashedly geeky) way to keep tabs on how active you are, the Fitbit One is a wonderful choice — as long as you don’t mind keeping track of all those accessories.Related Posts:
AT&T announced earlier this week that it start pushing its spate of Windows Phones starting this Friday, and now rival carrier Verizon Wireless has come out with an announcement of its own.
Apparently, VZW plans to begin taking pre-orders for the HTC Windows Phone 8X and the slightly chubby Nokia Lumia 822 starting at 1AM Eastern tomorrow, but the carrier has chosen to leave out a few key details like, say, when the devices will actually launch.
Oh sure, Verizon has teased some vague timeframes in the past: it previously announced that both handsets would be in stores by Thanksgiving, but there’s never been any official word on a firm release date. Thanks to a few leaks though, we can make some educated guesses — WPCentral cited an internal roadmap and reported in late October that Verizon planned to push both devices into its sales channels starting on November 12. Also on that roadmap were purported prices for the two handsets ($ 99 for the 822 on a two-year contract, $ 199 for the 16GB 8X) as well as color choices for each device, all of which Verizon ended up confirming a few days later in an official statement.
Then again, things may have been shuffled around a bit since then — if you’ll recall, HTC and Verizon are holding a press event in New York City on the 13th where the two intend to show off their latest “collaboration.” HTC and VZW are widely expected to pull back the curtains on the oft-leaked, Android-powered Droid DNA smartphone, which seems like a curious choice of timing if the Lumia 822 and the HTC 8X are really slated to launch the day before. Stolen thunder, anyone?
Of course, that’s not to say it won’t happen, but I’d hope to see Verizon Wireless give its customers a little more time to digest the Windows Phone announcement before springing a top-tier Android device on the masses. For the time being though, we’ll just have to wait and see how Verizon’s plan unfolds, but here’s hoping they ship sooner rather than later. After all, Windows Phone devotees on Verizon are probably getting sick and tired of the single WP device in the carrier’s arsenal.Related Posts:
Today in a Mannheim court, a judge ruled that Motorola Mobility did not infringe a Microsoft patent that deals with allowing software applications to work with a phone’s radio antennas across a range of different handsets, without having to build a custom means of doing so for each individual device. The victory for Motorola comes after three losses to Microsoft in German in patent cases, which have resulted in injunctions against smartphones made by the Google subsidiary.
While the handset injunctions have been a black eye for Motorola in Germany, where Motorola’s Droid and Atrix Android phones have been barred from sale for infringing on Microsoft’s FAT file system patent, this helps a good deal in protecting a very essential part of smartphone technology. Were Motorola to suffer a defeat in this case, the ramifications would result in problems for application developers, so this extends into the realm of defending Android itself, something Google was clearly hoping to be better able to do thanks to Motorola Mobility’s patent portfolio.
Unfortunately for Motorola and Google, Microsoft also logged a win against a patent that could represent an essential core feature of Android, for “a method and system for receiving user input data into a computer system having a graphical windowing environment.” Microsoft says that’s not something Google or Motorola can sidestep with design changes.
Today’s decision won’t have any effect on the Mannheim court’s past rulings, Microsoft’s legal team was quick to point out, according to Reuters. And Google has spent $ 12.5 billion on Motorola Mobility, so it was likely hoping for more checks in the wins column, but at least they’ve got something out of it in the ongoing global patent battle.Related Posts:
It’s only been a couple of weeks since Kobo took the wraps off of its new lineup of readers and tablets, but someone must have told the company spacier Arcs were in need. Today, the outfit announced it’s bringing a fresh pair of 32 and 64GB models to its Ice Cream Sandwich slate, opening the door to those who thought the 8 and 16GB flavors simply didn’t offer enough storage space. Kobo’s pricing the 32GB Arc at a decent $ 250, while the larger 64GB unit will carry a $ 300 tag — both are set to be up for grabs in November alongside that entry-level 16GB model, with the 8GB getting the boot altogether.
Filed under: Tablets
The FCC has been more than a little eager to repurpose spectrum as wireless internet access takes off: white spaces and iDEN frequencies have already switched roles, and that’s not including the myriad of spectrum swaps. Add one more wireless variety to the list, as FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has confirmed his agency will vote on a proposal for incentive-based auctions of UHF spectrum. When the Commission meets next on September 28th, it will decide on whether or not to lure broadcasters into giving up the usually TV-focused space for the sake of data lovers everywhere. The freed-up airwaves in the proposal would mostly be unlicensed spectrum with “WiFi-like uses,” but at a much lower frequency than the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands that WiFi needs today: as the first consistent, unlicensed spectrum at that range in the US, it could create opportunities for longer-ranged, free wireless that aren’t even on the table in 2012. Not that we have much of a choice in taking action today. Any accepted rules won’t be completely finalized until mid-2013, and the auction itself won’t take place until 2014. Still, the UHF plans foster dreams of more wireless for everyone — and we suspect that even one Mr. Yankovic wouldn’t mind giving up Channel 62 for a long-distance home network.