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Expert Blogs

New "Home" App in iOS 9 May Manage Smart-Home Devices

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I'm looking forward to the June 8–12 developers conference, during which Apple is expected to show off iOS 9 and announce new products. Apple has already confirmed that new devices compatible with their HomeKit platform will launch in June, so many are expecting the Worldwide Developers Conference to feature this forthcoming platform. In announcing HomeKit, Apple said it would be used with devices that control a home's locks, lights, cameras, doors, thermostats, plugs, switches, and more. Smart-home devices are becoming increasingly popular, and a platform that integrates their function and gives them a common interface would be a huge boon — and a big step forward for the industry. The timing is right.



Rumor: iOS 9 Maps to Include Transit Directions

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Details of iOS 9 are continuing to leak as we get closer to the June announcement of this new version of iOS at the Worldwide Developers Conference. 9To5Mac is reporting that Maps in iOS 9 will now include transit directions — a feature that was rumored for iOS 8 but wasn't ready in time. Now it's said to be ready and will include subway, train, and bus information. 



Into The Circle is Solid Sliding Fun!

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Into The Circle (Free) is a ridiculously addictive, endless physics challenge that requires precise rhythm and proper vector throttling in order to advance to the ever higher levels. The freemium game is inspired by the sport of curling, and though I couldn't watch even five minutes of the real thing, it translates well to the hybrid platform-like application represented in this game. One try and I guarantee you will not want to stop trying to get into the circles.



I Left My Font for San Francisco

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If you have an Apple Watch, you're using a new font developed by Apple dubbed "San Francisco." That font is only available for the Apple Watch and developers cannot use on the iPhone or iPad. That could change with iOS 9, expected to be announced at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in June. The San Francisco font was designed to be more legible, especially on small screens, but that could also benefit the iPhone and even iPad. 



Hunting for the Best Apple Watch Apps?

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Now that the Apple Watch has been available for a month, some experienced users are developing strong opinions about the best and most useful apps. And they've taken the time to post short lists of these.



Unleash Your Inner App Developer Part 16: Tuning Up Core Data

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Do you have an idea for an app but lack the programming knowledge to begin building it? In this weekly blog series, How to Unleash Your Inner App Developer, I will take you, the non-programmer, step by step through the process of creating apps for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Join me each week on this adventure, and you will experience how much fun turning your ideas into reality can be! This is Part 16 of the series. If you are just getting started now, check out the beginning of the series here(This post has been updated to Swift 1.2, iOS 8, and Xcode 6.3.)

In my previous blog post, you learned how to add Core Data to a project and design entities in a data model. In this post, you will learn how to generate entity classes from the entities in a data model and use them within your app. You can get the latest version of the iAppsReview project at this link.



What I Learned While Writing Apps for the Apple Watch

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It seems like I have been waiting for an app-enabled smartwatch since my calculator watch days in the early 1980s. I'm still waiting, because while the Apple Watch runs apps as extensions of the iPhone's screen, those apps still run on the iPhone. Apple has said that developers will be able to write apps that run natively on the Apple Watch, but it hasn't committed to a date. Perhaps June's Worldwide Developers Conference will shed some light on this limitation.



The Search for Apple Watch Apps Just Got a Little Easier

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If you were lucky (and brave) enough to pick up an Apple Watch, you probably want to find some killer apps for it. Maybe you want to justify your purchase, or show it off to friends, or just get the most out of your new device. After all, the original iPhone didn't really strut its stuff until the App Store showed up a year later.



Grading Tests in a Zip With ZipGrade

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What it is: ZipGrade ($1.99 2 months/$6.99 1 year subscription), an automated multiple choice grading app for teachers on the go.
 
Pros to using ZipGrade: 
 
  • Scores are returned instantaneously as the student waits.
  • You can see how your entire class did on a test from the Item Analysis screen. 
  • You can import students and classes and then export them to many online grading sites.
  • Backed up to the cloud.
  • You have


Google Apple Watch App Offers News, but Is Not as Good as CNN's

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It's always a good sign when one of the top companies develops an app for a new platform. Google has just launched their first Apple Watch-ready app: Google News & Weather (free). The app offers the top 10 news headlines, drawing upon over 65,000 publications. On the iPhone and iPad, the app, which was first available last fall, offers news in categories such as Technology, Sports, and Fashion. The Apple Watch content, though, is limited to the latest headlines, and doesn't include local news and weather. With each headline you can scroll down to see a photo. However, you're not able to view the full story or to see a summary. On the other hand, a Force Touch adds the news story to your reading list in Safari. 



FiftyThree Introduces Think Kit for its Paper App

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FiftyThree, the team behind various creative tools, added a few more upgrades to its Paper (Free) app for iPad. The Think Kit includes three new modeling and graphing instruments  Diagram, Fill, and Cut.



Unleash Your Inner App Developer Part 15: Core Data Next Steps

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Do you have an idea for an app but lack the programming knowledge to begin building it? In this weekly blog series, How to Unleash Your Inner App Developer, I will take you, the non-programmer, step-by-step through the process of creating apps for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Join me each week on this adventure, and you will experience how much fun turning your ideas into reality can be! This is Part 15 of the series. If you are just getting started now, check out the beginning of the series here(This post has been updated to Swift 1.2, iOS 8, and Xcode 6.3).

In my previous post in this series, I discussed some of the basics of Core Data, the technology that allows you to store and retrieve information on an iOS device. You learned about entity data models, databases, and how you can improve on Apple's default Core Data implementation. 



Coolors App Brings Color Palettes to iOS

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Looking for a flawless color scheme? Coolors ($0.99) — an app for the web and iOS — can generate an unlimited number of color arrangements to help with your design projects.

The app was created by designer and developer Fabrizio Bianchi. In an interview with Wired, Bianchi says that “the process of creating a color scheme should be easy.”



New York Times Now Free in iOS App

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A new version of the New York Times app for iPhone, called NYT Now (free), was released yesterday. And the big news is that you can now read unlimited articles without having a paid subscription. (Previously, the cost was $7.99 per month.) In addition, the new version highlights the latest news at the top of your news feed, lets you share screen shots of stories with your friends, and includes support for 1Password. You can also subscribe to the Morning Briefing and receive an alert when it's ready. 



Apple and VoiceOver Honored For Accessibility Efforts

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Apple has a long history of making its products more accessible to the blind and other communities. Despite, or perhaps because of a scathing Reuters article that blasted Apple on the accessibility front, the American Foundation for the Blind just singled out Apple and will give them its Helen Keller Achievement Award. I can relate, as I work with the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, here in Rochester, NY, and have participated in focus groups and technology fairs; and I'll be there in a couple of weeks for another tech fair, because of my AllAccess app that reads menus to the blind. I also participate in the Visually Impaired iPhone Users Group on Google Groups.



How Siri Gets Smarter

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Google has at least one big advantage over Apple when it comes to voice queries, namely their eponymous search engine. Apple has had to rely on partners like Google, Bing, and Wolfram Alpha to deliver information in response to Siri queries. While Google has had years of experience in this area, Apple has always outsourced search. But, just as with Apple Maps, Apple doesn't want to rely on Google, or anyone really, if they can do it themselves. This way the company controls its own destiny.



Review: Notti and Dotti smart lights

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Have you ever thought of using a smart light? Witti sent me its Dotti and Notti smart lights to test out, and they provide an interesting iPhone experience, allowing users to connect via Bluetooth to apps that control the units.



Review: BreakingSports app

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Sports addict? Live-tweet addict? Don’t have time to spend scrolling through Twitter for live-tweets of your favorite sports games?

Then BreakingSports (free) is for you. It combines notifications from your favorite NBA, MLB, NHL, NFL, and NCAA Basketball teams from different Twitter accounts, making it a completely unique way to digest sports news. The app also lets you subscribe to different players and receive notifications for injuries, suspensions, lineup changes, roster changes, scores, stats, rumors, trending stories, and headlines. 



Apple TV Remote Control to Get a Refresh

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The Apple TV is due for a refresh and signs point to a June announcement, at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference. The box might not be the only element to get an upgrade, as reports suggest the remote control that ships with the Apple TV, and is sold separately to control Macs, could get a touchpad. I was just setting up a current version of the Apple TV at a friend's house today and it was a pain trying to use the arrow keys to enter an email and password. Usually I use the Apple Remote iPad or iPhone app which adds touchscreen control and a virtual keyboard. It will be a nice addition if the next generation of the Apple TV includes an improved remote control.



Review: SameGrain app

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Meeting new people through SameGrain (free), a platonic version of Tinder, is pretty interesting. Users can tell the app what they like to do and the app will provide matches. For those who want to meet people online, this is a good platform to do so.



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