iOS 6 is now officially available for downloading to your favourite iOS device, and for the most part it’s a worthy upgrade to Apple’s mobile operating system.
I’m still a little peeved by the elimination of the Google-powered Maps app, especially the super-convenient Street View option which, for now, remains a Google exclusive.
But what Apple takes away on the one hand, they also give with the other. Case in point: Inserting photos and videos into emails.
In past revisions of iOS, adding a photo or video to an email required you to know that you wanted to include one first – before composing your message. You needed to start in the Photos app, and then select the appropriate photos or video from your collection and then choose to share them via email.
The files would “fly” into a new email window and you could begin the somewhat tedious task of trying to arrange your text around these inline elements.
It wasn’t a bad system if all you wanted was to blast off a few pics to a friend, but if you actually wanted to describe a situation using multiple photos, with text in between, it lacked the kind of flexibility that other email systems offer.
But with iOS 6, all this has changed – and for the better.
Now, when you want to include photos or video, you don’t have to pre-plan.
Simply start composing a new email, then, when you get to the spot where you want to insert your file, simply tap-and-hold on the screen – the same way you would if you were going to copy/paste some text, and look at the dialog box that pops up.
You’ll notice that there is a small arrow to the right of the displayed options. Tap that arrow once, and you’ll see the brand new “Insert Photo or Video” option.
Tapping it takes you straight to your Photos app, where you can select your item (just one – no multi-select is available). Once chosen, the item gets dropped into your message, exactly where you tapped.
Here’s a fact that blew me away when I read it: The London 2012 Olympic Games will be the first Olympics since the launch of the iPad.
Think about that for a moment. If you own an iPad, or any tablet for that matter, you know how much it has changed your media consumption habits. Everything from how often you surf the web, check email, log on to Facebook or Twitter or watch YouTube – every one of these activities has become (for better or worse) a bigger part of your life.
And given that the Summer Games are taking place in London, England – a land that is at least 5 hours ahead for Canadians (8 if you live on the west coast) – there’s a good chance that the live coverage of events will be happening when you aren’t in front of your TV. That thought is bound to have Olympics junkies wondering how they’re going to get their fix throughout the day.
Fear not, my friends, Sync has you covered. Here is everything you need to know to stay on top of all the action whether you’re at home, at work or somewhere in between – even on vacation.
Let’s face it, all of that exciting sports action deserves the best possible screen and that is still (until something better comes along) your HDTV. Regardless which satellite or cable company you subscribe to (or even if you’re using free over-the-air) you’ll be able to catch the games on the official Canadian broadcasters: CTV, TSN, Omni and Omni2, SportsNet, OLN, RDS and RDS2 and V-Tele. If you can receive these in HD, you’ll enjoy crystal-clear image and sound.
If however, you are a Bell TV subscriber, there are two more features worth noting: Satellite subscribers can access a special channel known as the “Mosaic” – a screen that features 5 of the channels that are currently broadcasting events live from the Games. You can see each feed in real time in order to decide which you want to watch – or simply leave it on that channel and enjoy them all. If you have Fibe TV, the same channel will be interactive – use your Fibe TV remote to highlight the channel you want from the Mosaic and jump to it directly.
The next best place to catch the Games is your PC or laptop. Heading over to CTVOlympics.ca will give you the most comprehensive view of the Olympics along with scheduling, athlete profiles, contests, photos and interviews. Watching on your PC’s screen won’t always live up to the full-HD broadcast quality you can get from cable or satellite, but if you’re on the road and have Wi-Fi access, it’s definitely the next-best thing.
If you have an iPad or an Android tablet, you can download the free CTV Olympics app that essentially replicates the CTVOlympics.ca experience within a native app. You’ll find that navigating between the features and videos is easier than using the web-based version on a touch screen. Again, as long as you have Wi-Fi connectivity, you’re good to go.
Use Bell Mobile TV
If you find yourself outside of Wi-Fi reception, and you own a Bell smartphone, the Bell Mobile TV application is the only way to access live streams from the Games when on a 3G or LTE network connection. The Mobile TV subscription costs $5/month for 10 hours of streaming, with $1/hour thereafter. It costs more than free, obviously, but if you’re camping or even just taking the train home at night, it’s a great way to get caught up on the action. The app gives you access to all of the channels that are offering live coverage, plus an on-demand section for grabbing highlight videos from your favourite events.
Bell has created a custom app on Facebook called the Bell London 2012 Scheduler and it’s an interactive service that lets you find the events you want to watch or follow, receive reminder emails before the events starts, plus you can update your status automatically so your friends know what you’re watching. Better yet, if your friends use the app, you’ll be able to see who else is planning to watch at the same time – making it easier to plan group watching sessions whether online or, y’know, in real life.
Okay so this really doesn’t have much to do with the games themselves but it is pretty fun: Bell has created a free iOS and Android app called “Make It Epic” (look for this to launch shortly) which lets you shoot a short video of your friends engaged in the activity of your choice (anything from making breakfast to attempting a complex skateboard trick) and then isolate a portion of the video for the “Epic” treatment. Epic in this case means a super slo-motion effect accompanied by the Chariots of Fire theme. The results can be surprisingly hilarious. You can then share your creation using all of the typical choices including Facebook, Twitter, email etc.
Unless you’ve been sticking with the same CD collection you’ve owned since the 90s, or you’re one of the hardcore vinyl-collecting crowd, odds are good that most of your music is now sitting in MP3 or AAC format on your PC, MP3 player or smartphone. And while each of these devices are great for organizing your tunes and listening to them privately, they lack the group-listening vibe afforded by our stereos, boomboxes and home theatre systems. Fortunately, there’s never been a better time to widen your music’s horizons. Here are three ways you can get into the wireless streaming game so that you can enjoy your music wherever you are in your home and on any existing audio device.
1. RIM BlackBerry Music Gateway ($50)This tiny black module is the absolute cheapest and easiest way to get your digital music to flow through the speakers of your choice. As long as your music is stored on a smartphone or other device that is Bluetooth 2.0 (A2DP) compatible, you can pair it to the Music Gateway and then connect the Gateway to your home stereo using the included mini-jack audio cable. The Gateway needs power but you can use the same Micro-USB cable and AC adapter that you use to recharge your phone. The music is controlled straight from your smartphone. Bonus: If you own an NFC-equipped BlackBerry such as the new Bold 9900, you can skip the Bluetooth pairing process by simply tapping the phone to the Gateway – voila! Instant streaming. Keep in mind however, that Bluetooth streaming isn’t as flexible as Wi-Fi. Bluetooth typically maxes out at 10 m (30 feet) whereas Wi-Fi can often extend up to 300 feet, particularly when used outside.
2. Apple Airport Express Base Station ($99)The Airport Express might just be Apple’s best kept secret. This all-white unit, which is about the size and shape of a deck of cards is deceptively simple: A plug for AC power, an ethernet port, USB port and an analog/optical mini-jack. But the list of things it can do is impressive. Most relevant to this discussion is that it can turn any stereo system into a Wi-Fi (or wired) receiver for your iTunes music whether you keep that collection on your Mac, PC or iOS device. Apple’s AirPlay technology which recognizes the AirPort Express on your home network, treats the Base Station as a set of speakers that you can “push” your music to from your iTunes software.
Want to stream your music to multiple stereos? Simply add more AirPort Express Base Stations. Each one can be labeled according to whatever makes sense e.g. “Living Room”, “Kitchen” etc. and if you’re streaming from a PC or Mac, you can have them all receiving the music simultaneously. Each AirPort Express can be muted or volume-controlled from your computer, but it’s way cooler to do it remotely using your iOS device with Apple’s free “Remote” app. Want to stream from your iOS device instead? Again, each AirPort Express will show up as AirPlay devices in any app that supports AirPlay e.g. CBC’s Music app. The AirPort Express has some other cool features up its sleeve beyond music streaming: it can repeat the Wi-Fi signal from an Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station, giving your Wi-Fi greater reach; it can act as stand-alone wireless router when connected to your DSL/Cable modem via ethernet or if you’re in a hotel room with only wired internet access and finally it can act as a print server when a printer is connected to the USB port – now everyone on your network can print to the same printer.
3. Sonos Play:3 ($329) plus Sonos Bridge ($60) Long before Apple started to hype their AirPlay technology, Sonos was inventing the gold standard for wireless home audio. The company has been refining their very successful formula for years now and they’re still the company to beat when it comes to liberating your music. Every Sonos system starts with their $60 Bridge. It doesn’t look like much and it only does one thing: create the SonosNet proprietary wireless network, and allow Sonos devices to access online sources of content. From there however, Sonos users have unparalleled choice. You can buy Sonos Connect receivers that connect directly to your stereos or other powered speakers. Or, you can buy a more powerful Connect Amp which as the name implies, houses an amplifier so you can attach virtually any pair of bookshelf speakers. Or, if you want a more portable solution, their Play:3 and Play:5 speaker systems are all-in-one sound systems combining a wireless receiver, amp and speakers. N.B.: You don’t actually need to buy the Bridge as long as you’re ok with positioning the Play:3 in a location where you can wire it to your router with ethernet cable. In this situation, the Play:3 can create the SonosNet network and act as the Bridge on behalf of the other Sonos devices in your home.
While more expensive than Apple’s AirPlay scenario, Sonos offers more options too: Each Sonos unit can be individually controlled even letting you choose to stream the same or different music sources to each device. You can also access far more content – in addition to your iTunes collection, you can access subscription services like XM radio, Slacker, LastFM and others. Another plus is that if you keep all of your music on a Network Attached Storage device (NAS) you don’t need your computer to be constantly on to get to your music. Sonos can access it directly. Finally, some Sonos devices can be used as AirPlay devices, as long as you buy an AirPort Express and your Sonos component has line-in support (N.B.: The Play:3 is NOT equipped with line-in). Once connected and configured, the AirPort Express that is connected to your Sonos device will show up as an AirPlay speaker on your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.
The entire Sonos network of gear can be controlled from any Android or iOS device through the free downloadable app. Sonos used to make a dedicated controller, but apparently the market for these dried up once people began buying app-driven gadgets. No surprise – you can pick up an 8GB iPod Touch for less than the Sonos controller and you can play Angry Birds!
I now owe a huge debt of gratitude to Tom Merrit and the gang over at CNET. Today they shared a tip which will improve life on the couch considerably: How to skip past all those annoying trailers that occupy a good 15-30 minutes of time on your DVDs.
I’ve always thought: This is ridiculous. I can barely stand being forced to watch trailers and ads at the theatre, but at least there I see that there is an additional revenu stream for the theatre owners and maybe, just maybe, by screening them my movie ticket price will stay the same for just a little longer.
And sometimes trailers at the theatre can be entertaining. Not so on a DVD – especially after the 2nd, 3rd or X viewing. If you have kids, you know what I mean.
And what give with the trailers anyway? I bought the movie, and the movie is what I want to see. Not the trailers. Whenever we’re lucky enough to buy a DVD that hasn’t been laden down with all of these utterly useless clips, I’m thankful.
Yeah, yeah you say – we agree! But what can we, the little people who have so little control in the big scheme of things, do about it?
Here’s what: Grab your remote as soon as that first trailer starts to play, press the Stop button twice, then the Play button once. That’s it.
According to CNET, this simple button sequence should work on nearly every DVD player (let us know if it doesn’t work on yours, and which one you’ve got).
Tell your friends, tell your parents, tell your kids… our movies are finally ours again.