iNews Review

How iOS Multitasking Really Works, iPad Deserves a Better Camera, $299 iPad Rumored, and More

This Week's iPad, iPhone, iPod, and Apple TV News

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2012.01.06

Mac notebook and other portable computing is covered in The 'Book Review, and general Mac news is in Mac News Review.

All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted.

News, Reviews, & Opinion

Rumor Roundup

The Competition

Apps & Services

iPod Deals

These price trackers are updated every month.

News, Reviews, & Opinion

How iOS Multitasking Really Works

Macworld's Fraser Speirs notes that there's one bit of iOS misinformation that he keeps hearing - even supposedly authoritative sources such as Apple Geniuses don't seem to get it about how multitasking works in iOS.

The erroneous assumption Speirs refers to is that all those apps in the multitasking bar on your iOS device are currently active and slowing it down, filling the device's memory, or using up your battery, and that in order to maximize performance and battery life, you should kill them all manually.

In fact, he observes, the iOS multitasking bar does not contain a list of all running apps, but rather a list of recently used apps, which, with a few exceptions, are not currently running. Ergo, when you press the home button, in almost all cases, the app quits, stops using processor time (and hence the battery), and the memory it was using is recovered, if required.

Speirs says iOS apps can exist in any of five states of execution: Not Running, Inactive, Active, Background, and Suspended. He explains the distinctions at some length in the article.

The confusing part, he suggests, is that none of these states are reflected in the multitasking bar, which merely shows a list of recently-used apps, regardless of whether they're in the Background, Suspended, or Not Running.

Speirs contends that because of this, the user never has to manage Background tasks on iOS, and if someone tells you that all the apps in the multitasking bar are running, using up memory or sucking power, they are wrong. The system handles almost every case for you without your active involvement.

Editor's note: I guess that's why I can keep two-dozen or more apps open on my 16 GB iPad 2 and not notice any diminishment in responsiveness. cm

Publisher's note: Apple has introduced this kind of multitasking to OS X 10.7 Lion, where the operating system can even quit an inactive app if some other program needs the memory, all without telling you it is doing so. On the one hand, this is a great solution to dealing with limited memory, especially since many Mac users (Windows converts in particular) hardly ever quit an app, leaving it in memory that could be better used by other apps. It certainly makes iOS and OS X Lion far more user friendly. On the other hand, longtime Mac users like to choose which apps are using memory and which are quit, so they can find this behavior bothersome - change is the price of progress. dk

You Don't Need to Manage iOS Multitasking

Daring Fireball's John Gruber weighs in on the iOS multitasking issue, citing Macworld's Fraser Speirs' layman's explanation (above) of why the misconception that all those apps showing in the iOS multitasking bar are running and eating memory space and battery life is wrong.

"Bottom line," says Gruber, "the iOS multitasking bar is not like the command tab switcher on Mac or Windows. It is not a list of currently running applications. It is simply a list of your most recently used applications, whether they're running in the background, suspended in memory, or completely inactive . . . [so] emptying this list of applications is simply needless, mindless, busywork. It was absolutely never intended to be used this way and anyone who does this is just wasting their time. The system suspends apps running in the background automatically. The system removes suspended apps from memory automatically, when needed. Manually zapping all apps from this list is a voodoo placebo."

Gruber observes that the whole point of iOS's multitasking model is that users should not have to worry about managing which applications are running and which are not, and that if you were supposed to do that, apps would have a Quit command, and they don't.

Why the iPad Deserves a Much Better Camera

Blogger Mike Cane says it appears that the main difference between two rumored iPad 3 versions will be that the high-end model will get an 8 megapixel (MP) CMOS image sensor similar to the one in the iPhone 4S, while the mid-tier version would get only a 5 MP unit a la the iPhone 4. The front camera in the iPad 2 is a miserable 2 MP, while the rear camera resolves less than 1 MP.

However, Cane castigates those who contend that if you're using a 10" tablet as a camera for anything other than the odd emergency situation or when making a video call, you are "doing it wrong" as smug, shortsighted thinking. [Your editor agrees.] The argument that most people with iPads also have 5-to-8 MP smartphones isn't universally applicable, and anyway, as Cane argues, if he's got an iPad in hand and some action is taking place, he's not going to take the time to put it away and grab a camera or a cellphone, which would be really doing it wrong - his conclusion being that the iPad is a post-PC device, and it needs a better camera to also make it a post-cellphone device.

Editor's note: Too true. I can think of lots of circumstances where I would prefer to use my iPad camera rather than dragging along my Sony Cyber-Shot - if only the iPad's camera had decent resolution. Bring on the high-res iPad camera! cm

Can an iPhone Really Can Make Your Eyesight Better?

Writing for Forbes, attorney Marc Weber Tobias says the first thing he noticed about his new iPhone 4S was the inability to alter the font size for email summaries, unless he used the three finger tap to magnify the print. Unfortunately, when you do that it becomes a hassle to navigate the text, and he notes the same issue is present on certain web pages or sites because the browser may be incompatible with magnifying the text so people over forty can read it.

Been there. cm.

Tobias says he reads a lot of emails, documents, and web pages every day on his smartphones and that whenever he does a lot of reading close-up, for at least fifteen minutes after staring at small-sized text, everything else is out of focus.

Been there too. cm

Worried that something was wrong with his vision or that he was unduly stressing my eyes, he called a laser eye surgeon friend, Dr. Vance Thompson, to ask whether continuously staring at very small characters on a smartphone was harmful to eyesight, either short or long term. He reports that the answer was unexpected and will probably be somewhat of a surprise to many smartphone users.

What the Apple iPad 2 Has to Offer - and What It Doesn't

My General Info Rescourse's Pam looks at how the iPad 2 is very different from the original iPad, noting that one activity you can perform on an iPad 2 that you couldn't on the original iPad is FaceTime video calling. The iPad 2 also has HD cameras* in both the front and back, and the Photo Booth app enables you to take snapshots of yourself as well as your friends.

However, she notes that the lack of Flash support in the Apple iPad 2 has many users disappointed, creating limitations for viewing Flash-based websites, nor does the iPad have a SD Card slot, which makes it more difficult to import photos from a digital camera, although it can still be done with an optional, extra-cost adapter. Also, you also can't add extra storage.

* Publisher's note: HD by video standards, but still a miserable 1-2 MP, which is inadequate for more than snapshot photography. dk

How to Get The Most Out of Your New iPad

DigitalTrends' Tim Daloisio has posted a starter guide to help put you on the fast track to learning and loving your new tablet.

The Surprising Success of the Confession App

The Globe and Mail's Wency Leung reports that when they launched their first Roman Catholic mobile phone application early this year, the founders of the Indiana-based startup Little i Apps had hoped their product would reach a small, niche market of fellow Catholics.

Leung says they never dreamed that their Confession app, which provides a step-by-step guide to giving confessions, would turn out to be such a hit, breaking into the iPhone App Store's top 25 most popular apps shortly after its late January release, beating out beating titles like Plants vs. Zombies and Sims.

Rumor Roundup

Will Apple Keep or Kill the iPad 2 When iPad 3 Debuts?

DigiTimes' Ninelu Tu and Joseph Tsai report that while Apple is rumored to be planning to carry over its iPad 2 model to compete in the entry-level tablet PC market against Amazon's Kindle Fire when the next-generation iPad 3 hits the market in March, sources in Apple's upstream supply chain are reporting that Apple's iPad 2 orders are dropping gradually, while orders for the new devices remain steady.

However, the order falloff does raise the question of whether Apple is actually planning to phase out the iPad 2, something Tu and Tsai's sources say is still too early to tell.

Publisher's note: Apple has had great success keeping an older version of the iPhone (or even two, as at present) available as a lower-cost alternative to the current state-of-the-art model. It would make sense to do so with the iPad as well, giving the iPad 3 quad-core processing and/or a higher resolution Retina display and making the current model a low-cost entry-level tablet. dk

Apple to Increase Battery Capacity of New High-end iPad

DigiTimes' Aaron Lee and Steve Shen report that according to unnamed industry insider sources, lithium-polymer battery capacity for the high-end version of Apple's new iPad (which DigiTimes says is due to be unveiled in January - a widely disputed prediction) will be increased to 14,000 mAh compared with the 6,500 mAh charge capacity of the current iPad 2. If this rumor is true, it will represent a revolutionary advance in tablet computer battery life, perhaps more than 24 hours uptime on a single charge.

However, official comment from Apple's battery suppliers Simplo Technology and Dynapack was not forthcoming.

Lee and Shen say Apple is fixing to unveil two versions of its next-generation tablet, targeting the high-end and midrange segments of the market, according to their sources said.

Apple to Launch Three-Tier iPad Model Lineup with iPad 3?

DigiTimes' Yenting Chen, Ingrid Lee, and Jessie Shen's report that Apple is planning to unveil its next-generation iPad, which will come in two versions, at the iWorld trade show on January 26, 2012, is being hotly disputed on the tech Web and contradicts a report by DigiTimes colleagues Ninelu Tu and Joseph Tsai who project that the iPad 3 will arrive in March, consistent with broad commentariat consensus.

Chen, Lee, and Shen's report cites sources in Apple's supply chain partner firms predicting that the iPad 2 will be carried-over to compete directly with Amazon's kindle Fire in the entry-level market segment, while two new iPad 3 models will focus on the midrange and high-end segments respectively.

They also say a rumored 7.85" iPad will be a no-show, with all models continuing to feature 9.7" screens but with QXGA resolution (1536 x 2048 pixels) and dual-LED light bars to strengthen panel brightness, based on insider reports.

Panels are to be sourced mainly with Sharp, but with Samsung Electronics and LG Display supplying some screens. Additionally, the report says the iPad 3 will be powered by quad-core A6 processors from Samsung instead of the dual-core A5 CPU in the iPad 2.

Other iPad 3 enhancements are to be 5 MP and 8 MP cameras, and batteries with capacities as high as 14,000 mAh the reporters note.

$299 iPad Coming to Counter Kindle's Fire?

DigiTimes Research's James Wang says that while market watchers have mostly projected that Apple would follow its traditional pricing strategy for its next-generation tablet device, meaning it would start from $499, with the present iPad 2 carried over and its price lowered to $399. However, Wang thinks that if Apple releases two versions of the new iPad, as DigiTimes forecasts, the pricing strategy may change.

Wang reports that sources from Apple's supply chain are claiming that there will be two versions of the new iPad, one targeting the high-end segment and the other the midrange, and says DigiTimes Research believes the two new iPad models will both be equipped quad-core A6 processors but that the high-end model will be equipped with a higher resolution (i.e., Retina) display (2048 x 1536) while the mid-tier model will feature the same 1024 x 768 panel resolution as the iPad 2

By continuing production and marketing of the existing iPad 2, Wang observes that Apple could cover all tablet computer price segments - from entry-level to high-end - but that it remains to be seen at what level Apple will set the price of its entry-level iPad, speculating that for WiFi only models, $299, $349, or $399 could all be possible.

He notes that with the non-Apple camp maneuvering in the $199-$399 range, Apple dropping its iPad price to $299 would really set the proverbial cat among the pigeons, impacting even Amazon's hot-selling Kindle Fire.

Editor's note: With the iPad 2's R&D costs now surely amortized thousands of times over, if production costs can be trimmed to a point where Apple can make money selling a $299 iPad 2 without compromising build and materials quality, why not? cm

The Competition

RIM Slashes All PlayBook Models to $299

tech.blorge.com's Ronald O Carlson, notes that when Research in Motion started selling their PlayBook tablet last spring, they hubristically declared that "amateur hour" was over. Never mind that the PlayBook didn't then and still doesn't have native email, calendar, and contact apps. "But don't think their foolishness is over," says Carlson, citing a report by AllThingsD's John Paczkowski, who notes that evidently the holidays didn't bring much joy to Research In Motion and its struggling PlayBook tablet, with RIM still knee-deep in unsold PlayBook inventory, catalyzing RIM's latest PlayBook sale. To wit: until Feb. 4, or whenever inventory runs out, RIM is selling all models of its PlayBooks for just $299 - a strategy Carlson calls "truly dim witted" and not so hot for the 16 GB unit, which has been sold as cheaply as $199 at some outlets. However, for the 64 GB version, which debuted at $699 and is currently selling on Amazon for around $370, it's a decent value (if you can live without untethered email support).

Apps & Services

BMW Magazine for iPad Experience BMW Magazine on Your iPad

BMW Magazine for iPad

BMW Magazine for iPad

PR: The BMW Magazine, now available as an iPad app, is winner of multiple awards, now also including the renowned red dot: best of the best.

Thanks to a clever navigation system, you can tap, turn, tilt and swipe your way through this lively mix of themes. Plus there are exciting video clips, entertaining animations and direct links to the Internet for guaranteed interactive reading, viewing and listening pleasure.

New in Version 1.1

  • Product-related data updates

Free

System requirements:

  • Compatible with iPad.
  • Requires iOS 4.2 or later.

Phraseology, an iPad App for Writers

Phraseology

Phraseology

PR: Texas based Agile Tortoise announces Phraseology 1.0.1, an iPad app for writers. The developer of the #1 ranked dictionary/thesaurus app, Terminology, has returned with a new kind of text editor for people looking to improve their writing on the iPad.

Phraseology is an iPad text editor with a simple environment that gets out of your way and lets you concentrate on writing, while providing easy to use tools to help organize and analyze your words. Whether drafting a tweet, an email message or working on the next great American novel, Phraseology can help.

Features include:

  • Manage an unlimited number of draft and archived documents
  • Unique "arrange" view lets you quickly reorganize lines without cut and paste.
  • "Inspect" view analyzes your text by part of speech and root words letting you navigate your document to reduce repetition and hone your language
  • Calculates common readability scores, such as Gunning Fog, Flesch Kincaid, SMOG index - and statistics like average syllables per word and average words per sentence
  • Integrates with Agile Tortoise's #1 ranked iPad dictionary and thesaurus app, Terminology. If Terminology is installed, additional features are enabled to lookup and select replacement words
  • Character and word counts
  • AirPrint, email, export/import and Twitter integration
  • Markdown support with previews and the ability to email and print formatted HTML
  • Font customization

Device Requirements:

  • Compatible with iPad
  • Requires iOS 5.0 or later
  • 0.7 MB

Phraseology 1.0.1 is offered at the special introductory price of $1.99 (or equivalent amount in other currencies) and available worldwide exclusively through the App Store in the Productivity category. To celebrate the release of Phraseology, Agile Tortoise's dictionary/thesaurus app, Terminology for iPad is also on sale for only $1.99.

NewspaperDirect Brings Intelligent SmartFlow Reading Experience in PressReader 3.0

PressReader 3.0PR: NewspaperDirect has released a major update of the PressReader digital newspaper application, which is now available for download in the Apple iTunes App Store.

PressReader 3.0 takes advantage of the power of the iPad 2 running iOS 5 to deliver the smoothest and most natural browsing and reading experience ever. With PressReader 3.0, users can now choose to read their favorite publications using SmartFlow - a groundbreaking horizontal news-reading feature that is exclusive to PressReader.

SmartFlow complements the traditional replica newspaper presentation with an ability to view articles as a continuous stream of stories that flow across the iPad, each optimally presented on the screen. With SmartFlow, users can journey through a collection of articles with visual cues that enhance their reading experience and reveal new gems of content they might otherwise miss. SmartFlow presents subscribers all the content of their favorite printed editions in a fluid stream of articles, where different sized images, fonts, styles and layouts provide insights into the importance of stories so readers can make more informed decisions on what they want to read.

PressReader 3.0With SmartFlow there is no need to jump to a new page where an article continues in the replica view. Instead, users just click on the "continue link" at the bottom of the snippet to expand to the full story right where they are located in the content flow. SmartFlow adjusts the rest of the stream immediately, making the reading experience more fluid and enjoyable.

SmartFlow is also directly connected with the Page View of the newspaper, allowing users to switch back to the original view of the page to see the article in context with neighboring stories and advertisements.

PressReader 3.0 is a major release that embodies our intense focus on enriching the reading experience for our subscribers, and those of our SmartEdition publishers, said Alex Kroogman, CEO of NewspaperDirect. With SmartFlow we've taken the replica experience to a whole new level enhancing it with an intelligent and intuitive content presentation capability that is designed to inspire readers to spend even more time enjoying their favorite publications.

PressReader 3.0Along with SmartFlow presentation capabilities, PressReader 3.0 offers many innovative features, such as:

  • SmartZoom that automatically positions the zoomed-in view to the beginning of an article
  • Instant switching between Replica/Page View and SmartFlow viewing

Press and hold (i.e. Long Press) activation of contextually driven actions:

  • Print full pages or articles
  • Share stories by email or on Facebook or Twitter
  • Listen to articles using Newspaper Radio
  • Copy and paste articles into applications that support it
  • Share opinions by supporting or opposing a story

Two-finger Pinch to adjust font and image sizes

  • Choice of different font types
  • Cross-title keyword search
  • Authorization of PressReader with a PressDisplay.com subscription

Watch this video to see SmartFlow in action along with the numerous other innovative enhancements included in PressReader 3.0: http://bit.ly/zoegka

PressReader for iPad and iPhone is available as a free download in the Apple iTunes App Store. Download it today and, as new user, receive seven free newspapers from an enormous selection, which includes prestigious publications such as The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer, National Post, The Globe and Mail, The Guardian, Daily Mail, International Herald Tribune, The Irish Times, ABC, La Tribune, Le Monde, andThe Australian, to name just a few.

Most individual newspapers and magazines available through PressReader can be purchased for 99¢ per issue, or downloaded in conjunction with a paid subscription on PressDisplay.com, which offers virtually unlimited access to the world's press for just $29.95/month. For full details on subscription pricing, visit the subscription page.

PressReader is the companion offline application for the world's largest online newspaper and magazine newsstand, PressDisplay.com. PressReader delivers the most authentic newspaper-reading experience on PCs, Macs, smartphones, Apple iOS devices (iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad), BlackBerry devices (Bold, Curve, Storm and PlayBook), the Windows 7 Slate PC, and the latest Google Android-based handhelds and tablets. Today, millions of tablets come preinstalled with PressReader from a growing list of major manufacturers including ASUS, HTC, Microsoft, and Samsung. With PressReader, you can hold a digital edition of your favourite publication in your hands and read it from cover to cover, just the way the title was printed with no compromises in quality, fidelity or content. Whenever PressReader, or its online service, PressDisplay.com, supports a new device, it is also made available to NewspaperDirect's publishing partners for their own SmartEdition e-editions based on PressReader technology.

System requirements:

  • Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
  • Requires iOS 4.2 or later

Free

Springer Launches SpringerLink Mobile App for iPhone

PR: Springer, a leading global scientific publisher, has launched the SpringerLink mobile app for iPhone and iPod Touch. It is free to download from the iTunes App Store providing access to the science platform springerlink.com containing articles and chapters from over 2,000 peer-reviewed journals and 49,000 books. In total SpringerLink is offering over 5.4 million documents spanning every area of science, technology and medicine.

SpringerLinkThe SpringerLink mobile app includes a number of features like personalized notifications, save and share abilities, advanced search, document details with abstracts and full-text views available to institutional subscribers. In addition, the app provides users with a multifunctional home screen, allowing for keyword and advanced searches. Included in the advanced search is a save search feature that allows the user to save any advanced search so that it may be quickly executed from the home screen. The user can be notified from the apps home screen when any new chapters or articles are published that meet the criteria of his or her saved search, allowing a user to specify his or her areas of interest and quickly check for new, relevant publications.

Free content in the form of article abstracts, over 127,000 open access research articles, plus book and journal covers and other document details are included in the app. Full-text is available to all users with institutional subscriptions. Users may instantly view materials while connected to a subscriber-based network. In cases where a user is not connected to the network but has a valid username and password, he or she will be presented with a link to log into SpringerLink.com. Upon log-in, the user will be redirected to the full-text PDF of the original request. Users can then share and save documents via email, Facebook and Twitter directly from the SpringerLink mobile app.

The SpringerLink mobile application represents Springer's continued focus on providing useful digital tools to researchers, students and professionals, said Patricia Cleary, eProduct Management at Springer. As more and more research is done away from the desk and on the go, it is our responsibility to make sure our customers are equipped to conveniently access Springer's vast collection of content.

SpringerLinkSpringer's content platform SpringerLink provides electronic access to more than 2,000 scientific and specialist journals, more than 48,000 ebooks, more than 1,500 book series and about 200 reference works. The publications cover topics from 12 subject collections such as mathematics, computer science, medicine, engineering, economics, law, humanities and social sciences. It also makes available 25,000 searchable online protocols in life sciences and biomedicine.

Springer is a leading global scientific publisher of books and journals, delivering quality content through innovative information products and services. It publishes close to 500 academic and professional society journals. Springer is part of the publishing group Springer Science+Business Media. In the science, technology and medicine (STM) sector, the group publishes around 2,000 journals and more than 7,000 new books a year, as well as the largest STM ebook Collection worldwide. Springer has operations in about 20 countries in Europe, the USA, and Asia, and more than 5,500 employees.

New in Version 1.0.1

  • Various performance and usability improvements.

System requirements:

  • Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad
  • Requires iOS 4.3 or later.

Free

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