Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.
Skyfire ($2.99) is one of the more popular alternatives to Safari. Unlike Safari, you can use it to view Flash videos. (Note that it doesn't support Flash games and apps, and it only supports selected Flash video sites.) Version 3.0 was released this week and adds deep Facebook Connect integration, social media feeds, and popular content recommendations, among other features. The video accompanying this post walks you through the new features.
Using an iPad to access a desktop computer remotely is a great boon to travelers. LogMeIn Ignition has been available for some time for the iPad and iPhone. And earlier this week GoToMyPC was released for the iPad. Both have positive reviews in the App Store. The GoToMyPC is free and has a 30-day free trial. After that it costs $10 per month for a single user, or $100 per year. The LogMeIn app costs $29.99.
Shortly after yesterday's event, I received a press release from Gazelle.com saying that they were eager to buy up people's old iPads if they were upgrading to the new. The release said that they would pay $375 for the original iPad, and more, of course, for the other models. Very shortly after, Apple listed the original models (new) on their website for $100 off, and refurbs at an even greater discount, starting at $349 for the basic model and $479 for the 3G. Wow.
Everyone talked about what hardware Apple would introduce. None of the buzz was about software. Yet a major part of today's announcement are the new iMovie and Garage Band apps for the iPad. The description of Garage Band is awesome — with a bunch of different instruments, 8-track recording and mixing, over 250 loops, and more. The keyboard actually has dynamics: touch it hard for a louder sound. How on earth did they do that?
Steve Jobs also introduced new apps for the iPad, including an amazingly robust version of iMovie ($4.99, available March 11). You can use the iPad to shoot and edit movies. Then you can use either AirPlay or the new HDMI port to play the move at 1080p on your HDTV. Wow. Apple is so far ahead of the competition. Whereas the iPad had been labeled as a device for consuming rather than creating, the new iPad 2 is clearly headed toward being a powerful tool for creating content.
There were rumors that Steve Jobs might appear at the press conference, but no one expected him to host. Yet there he was, leading the show just as he's always done — and introducing the iPad 2. It's twice as fast, with a dual core processor. And graphics-intensive applications are up to 9 times faster. As expected, it has front- and rear-facing cameras. It's one-third thinner (even thinner than the iPhone 4), is two-tenths of a pound lighter. It now has a built-in gyroscope. The price structure is the same as before, starting at $499. And, surprise, it's available in white as well as black.
One amazing thing about Macworld was to get demos of under-the-radar apps and see how good they are. You begin to realize that there are many unheralded gems. One such demo was iFiles ($2.99). It is primarily a file manager. That in itself was impressive — seeing a hierarchical system of files like I might view in my Mac's finder. It was as if suddenly there was a new window onto the iPhone. And it lets you manage not just the files on your iOS device, but also across multiple accounts in the cloud, such as Flickr, Google Docs, MobileMe, Dropbox, Box.net, and more.
One of the stranger experiences I had at Macworld was a guy who walked into our booth and threw his iPad on the floor. I mean, he didn't just drop it — he really threw it. And thanks to the attached iBallz, it just bounced around, no harm done. Check out the video. This accessory has a lot of other uses too, as the video shows, including as a stand. If I were letting a young child use my iPad, I absolutely would not do it unless this accessory was attached.