Monday, June 27, 2011

New features in iOS 5 beta 2

Here are some of the new features in iOS 5 beta 2 beside Wi-Fi syncing:

1. Traditional alerts now have a slightly larger typeface and feature the icon of the app associated with the alert. After a few seconds, the alert becomes a line item on the list of recent notifications. (See AppleInsider for screenshots and more information.)

2. There is change in the start up process for the first boot-up. It now requires the user to input an Apple ID.

3. Web apps can now have momentum style scrolling. (Source for 2 and 3:

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

iCloud will have web email, calendar

Users of Mobile Me will be glad to learn that Apple will continue to provide web access to email, contacts, calendars and Find My Phone after the service transitions to iCloud.

What will not be available in iCloud are the syncing of Mac Dashboard widgets, keychains, Dock items and System Preferences. Once you move to iCloud, or after June 30, 2012, these will no longer be available, according to an FAQ just released by Apple.

Services like iDisk, Mobile Me gallery and iWeb publishing will be available until June 30, 2012, even after you've moved to iCloud. Apple advises users to back up all data on iDisk and Mobile Me before this date.

Apple's full FAQ is here.

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New iOS 5 beta 2 will do wireless syncing

The latest beta version of iOS 5 now enables wireless syncing with a beta version of iTunes.

Developers who want to try out this feature will need iTunes 10.5 beta 2 for the Mac on 10.6.8 or Lion.

AppleInsider has the details.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

11-year-old developer releases 2 iPad apps before getting ready for PSLE

With his PSLE coming up, 11-year-old Lim Ding Wen is focussing more on his books than his programming. However, he has still managed to find time to do a little work on the iPad.

He's just completed a sequel to DoodleKids called Doodle Magic. Available on the iPad for US$0.99, this app has more patterns, colour cycling, support for the camera, AirPrint support and email.

Also recently released is Invader Wars 2 (free), a sequel to Ding Wen's original Invader Wars. This sequel is an iPad version of a game he first developed on the Apple IIGS back when he was 8 years old.

According to Lim Thye Chean, the boy's father, Ding Wen is now getting into the game engine Unity 3D. He will undoubtedly blow us all away when he finally unveils his first Unity-based game. But first, he'll have to pass his PSLE.

Ding Wen was described as the world's youngest iPhone developer after he released Doodle Kids back in 2009.

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DL apps this week: EasyBums; Healthy Chef; Fishing Joy HD

Apps I featured in today's Digital Life:

EasyBums (US$0.99) -- This app isn't about promiscuous posteriors. Instead, you can use this app to create albums on your iPhone, bypassing iTunes. You can also use this app to add captions to your photos.

Healthy Chef (free) -- A collection of healthy recipes by local chefs. Also creates shopping lists and helps you locate healthy versions of ingredients from local supermarkets.

Fishing Joy HD (free) -- Admit it. You too have stood outside the arcade watching a bunch of oldies sitting around a table playing some weird fishing game. You would try it too, but you're too embarrassed. Fishing Joy HD is your solution. Now, you can shoot rainbow lasers at sharks to your heart's content.

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

EpiCentre launches insurance policy for Macs and iPads

EpiCentre has just launches EpiGuard, an insurance policy for Macs and iPads. We'll try to get more details later but this is what we have so far from their press release:

EpiGuard is an exclusive insurance policy available only for customers of EpiCenter. It gives customers the protection needed when they purchase Apple products from EpiCentre. EpiGuard protects customers’ Apple products from Theft, Accidental Damage, Fire Damage and even Liquid Spillage. Special opening price $99 (usual price $129)

1. What are the coverages of this plan?
This is an insurance plan covering for loss due to theft and robbery, as well as accidental damage including liquid spillage.

2. What is NOT covered under this policy?
a) Acts of negligence
b) War, nuclear/radioactive contamination and terrorism
c) Loss or damage due to:
Wear and tear
Atmospheric conditions
Dishonest acts by insured
Faulty design
Unexplained loss or mysterious disappearance
Consequential loss of any kind
Penalties and fines
Loss or damage caused during any repairs, servicing or maintenance

3. What is an Excess?
An excess is the first amount the insured is required to bear in the event of a claim being filed. The insured is required to pay an excess of $200 for repair cost of the laptop for each and every claim made .The insurer will pay the balance cost of the repair. For example, the repair cost of a MacBook that has been damaged is $1,000 repair. The insured will bear the first $200 of the repair cost, while the insurer will pay the remaining $800 on a reimbursement basis.

4. What is Co-Insurance?
Co-insurance is applicable only when there is a total loss claim made on the laptop. Co-Insurance refers to the claim amount shared between the insurer and the insured.

5. How does co-insurance work?
In the event of a total loss incident, the policy covers for replacement cost less co-insurance or excess amount (whichever is higher). For Example, the replacement cost of a MacBook is $2,200. insured will pay the higher of column (a) or column (b). The insurer will cover the remaining cost for replacing the Apple product.

6. What is Replacement cost?
Replacement cost refers to the cost of replacing the lost Apple product with the closest available unit (but not better) in terms of functions, capacity and output.

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Mac deals at the 2011 PC Show

Note: Updated with links to deals from ECS.

The madness of the PC Show is here again. The annual bargain hunting event will run from today to June 12 at the Suntec City Convention Centre. And while it might be called the PC Show, there are plenty of Mac deals to be found as well.

Start by checking out the authorised Apple resellers. There are at least three of them at the PC Show:

Epicentre at Level 3 Foyer and Room 325
Nubox at Level 3, booth 303 and Level 4, A2030.
ECS at booth B2005

Each reseller has their own special PC Show deals. Check them out below.

Nubox deals

iMac 21.5” / 27”
-       double memory card upgrade
-       üProtect keyboard protector
-       16GB flashdrive
MacBook Air 11” / 13”
-       Incipio feather hard case
-       üGuard palm rest protector
-       üProtect keyboard protector
-       sleeve
MacBook / MacBook Pro 13” / 15” / 17”
Add $79 and receive
-       Incipio feather hard case
-       üGuard palm rest protector
-       üProtect keyboard protector
-       16GB flashdrive
-       sleeve

-       8GB memory upgrade*
(*Except for MacBook white – 4GB memory upgrade)
iPod touch / nano / classic / shuffle
Xüber 4-in-1 pack
-       portable speaker
-       screen protector
-       soundwire (3.5 stero cable)
-       Dexim USB AC adapter (UK plug)

Nubox will also be giving discounts of up to 70 percent on selected accessories.

Epicentre deals

Epicentre has lots of great deals too. Click on the flyers to get full details.

Click to see larger image

Click to see larger image
ECS deals

- Mac deals
- iPod deals

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Go beyond bus arrival times, says Transport Minister

Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said existing transport operators should go beyond merely providing bus arrival times on smartphones. He told the Straits Times that he would like to see a smartphone application that would be able to tell him "in a very simple, maybe colour-coded manner, whether there is only standing room on the bus or whether it is so crowded you are not likely to be able to get on board."

He said the government would work with transport operators to make such information available.

Separately, the Straits Times reported that at least five developers have been given the green light to access SBS Transit's bus arrival times API.

SBS Transit spokesperson Tammy Tan told the paper: "We continue to assess other proposals that have been submitted".

At least 10 developers have sought permission to use the data, which means that SBS has approved about half of the developer requests received so far.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

DL apps for the week: SingaporeTaxi; St James; DBSV mTrading; The Heist

Apps mentioned in today's Digital Life:

SingaporeTaxi (free). On more than one occasion, I've ended up paying much, much more than expected at the end of a taxi ride because of Singapore's baroque taxi fare system. There are, for example, surcharges on public holidays, on taking the taxi in the CBD during peak hours, on taking the taxi after midnight and on taking a taxi from Changi Airport. Use this location-aware app, to find out what surcharges you're liable for before you get in the taxi queue.

St James (free). If you regularly spend your weekend clubbing at St James Power Station, this app is for you. Get the latest promotions, sign up for exclusive deals and redeem reward points with this app.

DBSV mTrading (free). DBS Vickers has finally released an iPhone app to allow you to trade stocks on your iPhone with your DBS Vickers account.

The Heist (US$0.99). There are 60 puzzles to solve, and they are plenty fiendish. Great fun to play while you're riding home on the MRT.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A summary of Lion

Lion will be available in July for US$29.99 from the Mac Apple store. Here's a quick summary of its features:

New Multi-Touch gestures. These include momentum scrolling, tapping or pinching your fingers to zoom in on a web page or image, and swiping left or right to turn a page or switch between full screen apps. All Mac notebooks ship with Multi-Touch trackpads and desktop Macs can use Apple’s Magic Trackpad.

Full screen apps. iWork and iLife apps, as well as Safari, iTunes, Mail, FaceTime and others, all take advantage of Lion’s system-wide support for full screen apps.

Mission Control combines Exposé, full screen apps, Dashboard and Spaces into one unified experience. With a simple swipe, your desktop zooms out to display your open windows grouped by app, thumbnails of your full screen apps and your Dashboard, and allows you to instantly navigate anywhere with a tap.

The Mac App Store is built into Lion. Apps automatically install directly to Launchpad, and with Lion’s release, the Mac App Store will be able to deliver smaller “delta” app updates and new apps that can take advantage of features like In-App Purchase and Push Notifications.

Redesigned Mail app. The new Conversations feature groups related messages into an easily scrollable timeline, intelligently hiding repeated text so the conversation is easy to follow, and retaining graphics and attachments as they were originally sent. New search feature allows you to refine your search and suggests matches by person, subject and label as you type. Mail includes built-in support for Microsoft Exchange 2010.

Additional new features:

Resume, which conveniently brings your apps back exactly how you left them when you restart your Mac or quit and relaunch an app;
Auto Save, which automatically and continuously saves your documents as you work;
Versions, which automatically records the history of your document as you create it, and gives you an easy way to browse, revert and even copy and paste from previous versions; and
AirDrop, which finds nearby Macs and automatically sets up a peer-to-peer wireless connection to make transferring files quick and easy.

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A summary of iCloud

At WWDC, Apple introduced iCloud, its free cloud service, which will ship in fall. Here are the key features:

Contacts, Calendar and Mail from MobileMe have been completely re-architected and rewritten. You can share calendars with friends and family, and the ad-free push Mail account is hosted at Your inbox and mailboxes are kept up-to-date across all your iOS devices and computers.

The App Store and iBookstore will download purchased iOS apps and books to all your devices, not just the device they were purchased on. Download any apps and books to any iOS device (up to 10 devices) at no additional cost.

iCloud Backup automatically and securely backs up your iOS devices to iCloud daily over Wi-Fi when you charge your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Backed up content includes purchased music, apps and books, Camera Roll (photos and videos), device settings and app data. If you replace your iOS device, just enter your Apple ID and password during setup and iCloud restores your new device.

iCloud Storage seamlessly stores all documents created using iCloud Storage APIs, and automatically pushes them to all your devices. When you change a document on any device, iCloud automatically pushes the changes to all your devices. Up to 5GB of free storage for mail, documents and backup (excluding storage for music, apps and books purchased from Apple, and the storage required by Photo Stream doesn’t count towards this 5GB total.) You can buy more storage if you need it.

Photo Stream service automatically uploads the photos you take or import on any of your devices and wirelessly pushes them to all your devices and computers.

iTunes in the Cloud lets you download your previously purchased iTunes music to all your iOS devices at no additional cost, and new music purchases can be downloaded automatically to all your devices.

• iTunes Match will match music that you did not buy from iTunes and put it in iCloud. It will give you a 256 kbps AAC DRM-free version. This way you won't have to upload your entire music library. iTunes Match will cost US$24.99 annually.

Check out the video here.

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A summary of iOS 5

Apple unveiled iOS5 at WWDC and said it would be available in fall. Here's what's new:

- Tie-up with iCloud. Wirelessly keep all of your mail, contacts, calendars, photos, apps, books, music and more, up-to-date across all your devices without ever having to connect to a computer.

- Notification Center puts all notifications in one place. They are non-intrusive and with one swipe you can see all notifications. With one tap, you go to the app that sent the notification. Will also appear in the lock screen.

- Newsstand puts together newspaper and magazine subscriptions in one place. New issues are updated automatically in the background.

- Safari will get Reader (like the desktop version); Reading List, so you can save articles to read later; and Tabbed Browsing (only on the iPad).

- Built-in Twitter integration.  Sign in once and then tweet directly from Photos, Camera, Safari, YouTube and Maps.

- iMessage in iOS 5 brings messaging to all of your iOS devices―iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Send text messages, photos, videos or contact information over Wi-Fi or 3G. All iMessages are automatically pushed to all your iOS 5 devices.

- Reminders lets you set time or location-based reminder alerts, priorities and due dates.

- Camera - instant access to the camera right from the lock screen, and you can use the volume-up button to quickly snap a photo.

- Photos app lets you crop, rotate, enhance and remove red-eye, and organise your photos into albums right on your device to share them on the go.

- PC Free feature. Set-up no longer requires a computer. All iOS software updates are delivered over the air and installed with just a tap. Wi-Fi Sync in iOS 5 transfers and backs up your content securely over SSL and wirelessly syncs purchased content from your device to your iTunes® library.

Check out the video here.

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WWDC 2011: A picture essay (part 2)



10.02 am (and there's Steve!)

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WWDC 2011: A picture essay (part 1)

All photos thanks to @honcheng.

4.51 am
5.08 am

7.03 am
7.37 am

8.03 am

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Monday, June 6, 2011

WWDC 2011: The live blogs

WWDC will start at 1am Singapore time and local developer @echoz will be live blogging the event. He's been queuing outside Moscone Centre since 4.30am (SF time) and you can follow him here.

And as soon as he gets out of bed, we will also have photo updates from @honcheng, who is also at WWDC. Keep reloading the iMerlion page to get the latest photos!

Also covering the event live are Engadget and Ars Technica so don't forget to watch those sites too!

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Saturday, June 4, 2011

SG Buses developer gets green light to use bus arrival times

Looks like there's a happy ending after all to the bus arrival times saga.

SBS Transit has given SG Buses developer Muh Hon Cheng permission to use its various APIs for a year. Hon Cheng has signed the contract and is waiting for SBS Transit to sign as well.

Hon Cheng says he's glad his apps have gotten approval but he feels SBS is being unnecessarily restrictive in wanting to evaluate each app before approval. "(I) still feel that they should open it up to everyone," he said via email. "Hopefully this is the first step."  He also recommends that developers who were rejected the first time should send in another request for a meeting.

Hon Cheng is not the only developer to have gotten permission to use SBS's APIs. iMerlion previously reported that Windows Phone 7 developer Adi had also gotten the green light. While we have not heard from other developers, we do know that at least one other app, ShowNearby, now has working bus arrival times, though we cannot confirm that this is because they have gotten approval from SBS.

According to Hon Cheng, he will be implementing SBS's APIs after Apple's World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) next week. The API pack will be ready for collection on Monday, but he will be at WWDC at the time. However, this delay will not be an issue for users of SG Buses and SG NextBus as these apps are now already working. This is because Hon Cheng had previously been able to get around the SBS Transit roadblock anyway.

We're glad to see that SBS Transit has seen the light and is now allowing developers access to their bus arrival times. Hopefully, more organisations in Singapore will take the same approach. By freeing the data, creative developers can build interesting apps that benefit the public at little or no cost to the organisation.

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

DL apps for the week: Fotobook App; ZombieBooth; VocalZap

In this week's Digital Life, I featured the following apps:

Fotobook App (on sale for US$0.99). This neat little app edits your Facebook timeline so you only see pictures that your friends share. The big plus? No more Farmville updates. You can save the photos to your Photo app, or email it on to other people. A neat app by local developer Anideo.

ZombieBooth: 3D Zombifier (US$0.99). Prepare for the zombie apocalypse by downloading this app. Just take a picture of your face and the app will turn it into a snarling, decomposing zombie that lunges at you when you touch the screen. Shake the iPhone to get a different effect. (Note: not suitable for little kids. The effects can be quite scary).

VocalZap (free). You know the problem with Ella Fitzgerald's version of Misty? It's Ella Fitzgerald. Naturally, you can do a much better job. With VocalZap, you have that chance. VocalZap will silence the vocals in a song so that you can sing along with the instruments, without that annoying lead singer getting in the way. A great way to prepare for American Idol auditions.

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Security update removes MacDefender malware from system

Apple has released a security update to 10.6.7 that will remove the MacDefender malware if you have it on your system.

The update will also protect the system from other variants of this malware.

You can get the update by running Software Update or going to Apple's Downloads page.

Click here for more details of the security update.

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Winners of promo code for FlightLovers

Congrats to the following people! You've won a promo code for the excellent FlightLovers app.

- @ctrialtrock
- @chibiryan
- @alexistay
- @oliverlim
- @tobiascai

Contact editor at imerlion dot com to get the code.

If you didn't win, don't despair. Keep reading iMerlion, we'll have more promo codes to give away!

And if you really want a copy of FlightLover Singapore, it costs just US$2.99.

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Jobs will be at WWDC; focus on Lion, iOS 5 and iCloud

Apple has announced that the keynote address at WWDC next Monday will feature CEO Steve Jobs (as well as other Apple execs). The keynote will unveil Lion, the next major upgrade to the Mac OS; iOS 5, the next version of the operating system for the iPhone, iPod and iPad; and iCloud, the Apple's cloud storage offering.

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