So, Apple is re-inventing our portable TimePiece


What could be the next surprise product from Apple that would re-invent that product line ? Analysts and bloggers have been speculating about this for quiet a while.

Apple really need that. With enthusiasm on its iPhone declining, the company should waste no time in pulling back its depleting fan base.

An iTV has been doing the rounds for a while. But how innovative the design of that TV, it won’t  fly until you get content to deliver on that platform. And the core content generators are in no hurry to support something which could take away their major chunk of cash flow for them.

Here comes iWatch – An Apple designed Wrist Watch. The technology space is busy talking about how that product will look like and what features that would hold to wow the users. A recent news about the team that’s working on this product further reinforce the possibility of that.

Will Apple transform the Device to a multi-media / social device ?

Or

Will it completely change the way we use our watches ?

Wait and watch. It’s guaranteed that the product will pack a few innovations , probably a solar-powered device without  a visible solar panel.


Dilemma of an Indian iTunes Store Fan


Apple quietly made available Music and Movies on India iTunes Store.  India users didn’t have any clue until the Apple Device users started receiving  mail notifications from Apple.

Music collection on the store is not bad. Only problem,  user has to dig thru or try a search on his favourites. Surprised to see recent releases on regional music also on the store. But the default categories on the Music Section doesn’t help the user , unless he is looking for main stream music from Bollywood. Anybody of a different taste may rule out the store with a “minimal collection”, if he doesn’t dig deep into the store. International releases also seems to be exhaustive.

Video section seems skinny as of now. Not much from Bollywood and international titles. Hope this will improve over a period of time.

What’s really tempting for an Apple Device owner and movie enthusiast is the price. An HD version of a Hollywood title is around Rs 490, which is somewhere around one-third the price of its Blu-ray version. Quality ,  you cannot compare as the iTunes version is a  compressed version, but watchable.  Bollywood titles also seems to be reasonably priced.

The real problem is the closed ecosystem. Music is not of an issue as Apple is releasing non-DRM versions. But Movies are really pain-full.

For a person who likes to enjoy movies on his HDTV or Home Theatre, the current restriction is a real let down. On one side the tempting price and on the other side the lack of flexibility or choice in playing back your purchased movies.

Only options available for a user to enjoy his Movies purchased from iTunes are

  • Playback on the iDevices
  • Playing on your PC or Macs

If you want to enjoy them on your Home theatre, the options left are

  • Stream the Video and Audio from iDevices to Home theatre or TV thru Apple’s Digital AV Adaptor(Approx Rs 2300 + HDMI cable )
  • Utilize the HDMI / DVI connectors on your PC or Mac and feed the signal to your TV / Home Theatre thru HDMI or DVI cable

Some of the limitations on the above options are

  • iPad 2 and iPhone 4 outputs only 720p resolution
  • If you recently adopted iPhone 5 or iPad 4th generation then, currently no option to feed the HD Video/Audio to your HDTV / Home theatre, as Apple is yet to release Lightning compatible AV Digital adaptor.  Current version of Digital AV Adaptor with Lightning to 30-pin adaptor will not work.
  • PCs / Macs should have HDCP support to watch HD versions. If your current setup doesn’t support then choose SD versions for purchase or rent.

Another last option which again is not a standalone solution is Apple TV. This device is not yet available in India. Apple should be launching this in India soon as with the availability of Music and Movies , the usability  has improved from the device’s point of view.

But these again is quite restrictive. To enjoy your movies thru Apple TV

  • You need to enable Home Sharing on iTunes running on your PC  or Mac. That means to enjoy movies your PC should be running
  • Stream thru Airplay from iDevices to Apple TV. The restriction on iPad 2 and iPhone 4 may apply in this scenario also. Not confirmed.
  • The device doesn’t allow to playback your personal media on a hard disk, unless the same is imported to iTunes Library and shared thru Home Sharing.

XBMC has Airplay support, but I was not successful in Streaming Movies. Music was fine.

The current limitations in enjoying the purchased Movies on your HDTV or Home Theatre is a real roadblock.

I think, I’ll finally end up adding an Apple TV, as the temptation on the Pricing and convenience of Purchasing / Renting weighs out over any other route available now.


How To : Setup @me.com or @iCloud.com email account on Windows 8


Follow the following steps to connect @me.com or @iCloud.com email accounts to Windows 8 Mail App

Updated on 2 Oct 2013.  iCloud SMTP doesn’t authenticate if the username contains @iCloud.com also. If your existing iCloud mail account already registered in Mail App on Windows 8 stopped working, then create a new account with the following instructions. If you are doing so, please ensure, on the Wizard which starts , you key in your @iCloud.com email id instead of @me.com id.  If you continue the wizard with @me.com id, email sending will fail. Also, the SMTP port  has changed , instead of 25 use 587. Also SSL needs to be enabled for SMTP.

  1. Start Mail App
  2. Invoke Charms Bar by moving your cursor to the right edge of the Screen
  3. Select “Settings” then select “Accounts”
  4. Select “Add an account”, then select “Other Account”
  5. Select “IMAP”, Click “Connect”
  6. Key in your @iCloud email address and password on the respective fields
  7. Then click on “Show more details”
  8. On “Email User Name” field enter the iCloud id without the @icloud.com part. For e.g. if your id is abc@iCloud.com, enter just abc . iCloud SMTP server fails authentication, if you enter the username with the @iCloud.com part.
  9. On “Incoming (IMAP) email server” field key in imap.mail.me.com
  10. Leave “Port” field entry  at 993
  11. Leave “Incoming server requires SSL” selected
  12. On “Outgoing (SMTP) email server” field key in p07-smtp.mail.me.com
  13. Change “Port” field entry to 587
  14. Leave “Outgoing server requires SSL” selected .
  15. Leave “Outgoing server requires authentication” selected
  16. Leave “Use the same username and password to send and receive email” selected
  17. Click on Connect

Mail App will now complete the setup and sync your emails from your account

Once you see your mails from me.com or iCloud.com, few more settings needs to be changed.

While you are in the newly setup account mail box in the App

  1. Invoke Charms Bar by moving your cursor to the right edge of the Screen
  2. Select “Settings” then select “Accounts”
  3. Click on your @me.com or @iCloud.com from the list of accounts
  4. Scroll down to “Special Folders” section
  5. For “Sent Items” select “Sent Messages” from the drop down list
  6. For “Deleted Items” select “Deleted Messages” from the drop down list
  7. For “Junk” select “Junk” from the drop down list

That’s it. If you wish you can adjust the mail download interval and the timeline for which mails to be downloaded locally.


Apple started migrating @me.com email accounts to @icloud.com


iCloud Email address migration notification from Apple

@me.com to @iCloud.com

Apple have initiated the migration of email addresses using @me.com domain to @icloud.com .

Users whose email-ids are migrated have started receiving communication from Apple on the newly reserved email address. This email address is ready to use. iOS devices have already started reflecting the new email address without any action from the user side.

The new iCloud accounts are ready for use without any further action from the user.

You have the option to select the new address while composing a new mail. You can refer instructions here.

See Also : How to Setup me.com or iCloud.com Email Accounts on Windows 8

me.com addresses were reserved for the phased out MobileMe service. Hope Apple will stick on to iCloud service unlike its ill-fated earlier products.


iOS AppStore updated with local currency for India


Starting today AppStore has been updated to reflect price for Apps in Indian Rupee. Not sure whether currency conversion fees are still applicable when making a purchase from India.


Evolving Ecosystem around Apple Passbook


Passbook

Passbook (Photo credit: Domenic K.)

Its quiet interesting to see the evolving support around Apple’s Passbook app. I gave a hint about the future of Passbook in my earlier post.
By this time a handful of implementation utilizing Passbook have been announced.  Any solutions like Pre-Paid Cards on Passbook, in my view doesn’t utilize the right potential of Passbook.
What strikes me most is the approach taken by Apple to give a solution without utilizing new Hardware like NFC.
Disadvantages of NFC based mobile payment solutions.
NFC at first looks very innovative. But building any solution around this needs lot of new additions to user and the vendor.
  • Needs NFC Supported handsets
  • Needs specialized terminals at vendor-side to support NFC based payments
  • Vendors needs to integrate these terminals to their existing billing software
  • Tied down to one or two providers – Google Wallet and upcoming ISIS

Points captured under bullets 2 and 3   needs additional investment on the Vendor side.

No business will go for something new until they see some break-even in the investment they are making.

Since, plastic cards are so popular even with an average customer then why should they need to support a mere percentage of the population with NFC payments.
Advantages of Passbook based mobile Payment solutions

Passbook addresses the top Disadvantages of NFC based solutions

  • No additional hardware feature required on users Handset
  • No Specialized terminals needed at Vendor side
  • Utilizes bar code which is already supported  at  Vendors.
  • Passbook provides an ecosystem for any body to come in

See Also : iOS Passbook Simplified

Disadvantages of Passbook

  • It’s basically the current platform its available – Only iOS and that too on newly released iPhone 5 and older 4S.
  • Scanning of Bar codes in Passbook cards seems to be problematic for existing readers

The last one captured in the Advantages of Passbook is the most prominent one.

It’s easy for anybody to join the Passbook ecosystem unlike Google Wallet and ISIS.

The implementor just needs to ensure that he generates and supports Passbook compliant cards, which doesn’t seems to be a big deal.

The solutions so far provided in Passbook are either Boarding Passes, Admittance Cards, Pre-Paid Coupons. But we could see some innovative ideas coming up in future, As iOS always remains as a preferred platform for Developers compared to others.

To address the Disadvantages of Passbook
  • Apple could gain more acceptance by releasing Passbook to other platforms like Android, Windows Phones etc. Google has already taken this approach by providing support for iOS on their upcoming Google Wallet Version.
  • We could build a iOS based bar code reader. We already have Apps to do so in all platforms.

The first one is less likely, as core thinking at Apple is to Sell their hardware based on the exclusive software / app they provide on their hardware.

For taking Passbook forward

  • Deploying Passbook app in platforms other than iOS
  • Building a Two way interaction between Passbook and POS Terminals.

The current interaction between passbook and POS terminal is One way which is similar to existing payment solutions – Re-Deem Coupons, Credit / Debit Cards. As this is a Software based solution , we could build two-way interactions.  One use could be to Pre-Generate a card and  during each interaction, the Vendor charges the card and the Passbook card’s balance is reduced by the amount charged. This could in one way reduce the creation of a card for each purchase.

Also Major banks should come forward in generating Passbook supported Cards. The advantage for Banks would be no need to manage the making of Plastic Cards. If we could manage a Two way interaction then we could eliminate multiple Instances of any misuse. As Once a  Pre-defined limit based Card is generated then the charging happens between the Passbook Card and Vendor.

It will be exciting to watch how this App could change the way we  make mobile payments in future.

 


Real world application of iOS Passbook App


Real Word application of iOS Passbook App