Video Feature: Some Favorite Apps of 2015

22 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple Continues To Showcase Its Own Apps In The App Store’s Top Charts.

WRITING this feature once a week means I get to experiment with thousands of apps every year. The 100 apps cover the gamut of 60 professional roles across 14 industries and include iPhone, iPad, iPad Pro, Apple Watch and even Apple TV apps, Katharyn White, Vice President of IBM and Apple Partnership for IBM Global Business Services told TechCrunch.It seems Apple is continuing to use the App Store’s “Top Charts” section to promote its own applications, by allowing apps like iMovie and those from its iWork suite to appear in the Top 10 Free apps on users’ iPhones.

JetBlue (NASDAQ: JBLU) today announced the release of an enhanced suite of mobile apps, including a new JetBlue app for iPad, aimed at bringing even more convenience to customers’ fingertips so they can sit back and enjoy their JetBlue experience.I’ve owned an iPhone 6S for three months now — as long as it’s been available — but I’ve completely forgotten about its most unique feature: 3D Touch. I’ve tested around 3,000 apps in the last 12 months, including apps in new categories like video webcasting and Apple Watch apps, and I’ve seen a surge in short-term vacation rental apps, plus increasingly minimalist graphics across all categories.

And yet 2015 was one of Cupertino’s biggest years ever in terms of innovation, with product refreshes almost across the board (sorry, Mac Pro), a new device category (hey, Apple Watch), and a streaming service to rival Spotify. At the iPhone 6S unveiling in September, Apple advertised 3D Touch as “just as profound as multi-touch,” the innovation that introduced the world to swiping, pinching and zooming on smartphones.

From the weird staggered rollouts of the Apple Watch in spring and Apple Pencil in fall to Apple Music’s iCloud disaster, Apple wasn’t without its missteps in 2015. Special for iPad’s large display, customers can browse through destination guides which feature rich content and imagery from many of JetBlue’s 93 destinations. The partnership works because each company can draw upon its unique strengths, Maribel Lopez, principal at Lopez Research explained. “I think [Apple] brings the concept of simplicity (direct to task) and beauty to enterprise apps. Has Apple effectively turned its App Store’s Top Charts section into a way to market its own software – stealing the top ranks from deserving developers in the process? Customers can also use their iPad to access JetBlue’s other iOS features, easily book travel and access functionality found on jetblue.com, including the Best Fare Finder calendar and a Hot Deals page. “Our handheld mobile app has focused on the customer’s travel journey, but with iPad’s large Retina screen and advanced features, we are opening up a whole new world of travel exploration and possibility,” Miller said. “The new iPad app helps our customers answer the question ‘Where do you want to go next?'” The mobile enhancements also bring new functionality to iPhone and Android.

Apple sold 13 million iPhones during that launch weekend, and is expecting to make between $75.5 billion and $77.5 billion when it reports holiday quarter earnings at the end of January. With the latest update, customers have even more control over their JetBlue experience with the ability to select and change seat assignments after check in, purchase Even More Space seats or other ancillary services, and use their phone’s camera feature to input credit card and passport information. So you can, for example, start composing a tweet by pressing hard into the Twitter app icon on your phone, or get directions home just by pushing into Apple’s Maps app icon. 3D Touch also does two other notable things: You can switch into one of many already-open apps by pushing into the side of the display, and you can “peek” at things like photos, emails, or hyperlinks to get a preview of what they are, or push into the screen a bit further to “pop” out that content into a new window. This simple two-dimensional infinite scrolling game puts you in control of a character skiing down an endless, never-repeating mountain while collecting runaway llamas, sliding along rooftops, somersaulting over chasms and, when you progress far enough, soaring like a bird above the snow.

It also appeals to customers, says Gartner analyst Van Baker. “The Apple IBM partnership combines the dominant enterprise device vendor with a dominant enterprise software vendor which is inherently appealing to [customers],” he said. Regardless of the answer, the apps’ seemingly magical appearance then disappearance from the Top Charts over the course of a day calls into question the legitimacy and accuracy of Apple’s rankings system altogether. These apps can do so much more than simply mobilizing a task from a PC because a mobile device and all it brings can change the way people work, Lopez explained. “Partnerships like this help companies create apps that were better than their PC predecessors because they can use more functions of the device — camera, voice, messaging, location — and they can do it anywhere since it’s [portable],” she said.

With this update, JetBlue for Apple Watch will gain several new features and alerts including flight status and TrueBlue updates delivered right to the watch face without needing to tap into the app. About JetBlue AirwaysJetBlue is New York’s Hometown Airline™, and a leading carrier in Boston, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, Los Angeles (Long Beach), Orlando, and San Juan. Many of these tools work in conjunction with back-end systems like ERP, CRM and content management; and IBM can bring its enterprise expertise to bear to help customers connect the apps developed with Apple to these systems.

The new iPhone’s flagship features include 3D Touch and a revamped camera; the iPad mini 4 is now as powerful as an iPad Air 2, the new MacBook is the most portable laptop around; and the Apple TV has a full-fledged App Store and Siri integration. But it doesn’t work with a vast majority of the apps I frequently use, including Reddit’s Alien Blue app, Google Hangouts, Uber, LinkedIn, and dozens of others. It could also generate some interesting technology combinations from the two partners. “Combining a Siri front end with a Watson back end could be a very powerful offering,” Baker said. Apple waited three years to overhaul the TV, and in that time it was left in the dust by rivals Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and even Google’s Chromecast streaming stick.

While obviously this partnership is part of the broader IBM transformation process, White says from her perspective that is not her primary motivation here. “My motivation is to change the lives of people at work. By then, I hope Apple and developers for its iOS and OS X platforms can come up with more clever applications for this clever but underwhelming technology. Apple Music ran into trouble before it even launched (and then some more trouble afterward, which we’ll get into later), but the company managed to get the world’s biggest pop star on its side. Who knows.) Another firm, appFigures, pulled today’s ranking data for the iWork apps and found that neither Pages, Numbers or Keynote were ranking for anything other than the “Productivity” category on iPhone.

ICYMI: Apple was planning to withhold royalties during the free 3-month trials offered to Apple Music subscribers, and when Taylor Swift caught wind of this, she took to Tumblr to post a gently admonishing open letter to the company. In fact, the Pages chart shows that Apple’s Microsoft Word competitor had actually dipped in its category over the past few days – which is not what you would expect from a supposedly Top 10 application.

Apple rolled out Apple Music on desktops with iTunes 12.2, bundling its streaming library with your iTunes purchases with the help of iCloud Music Library. Originally designed around a vertical video format to match how you naturally hold a smartphone, Periscope is effectively a social network for watching and sharing short live videos. In other, more serious circumstances, iTunes wiped or corrupted thousands of tracks from some libraries, resulting in hundreds of angry Apple support forum complaints and one very high-profile rant.

No one knows exactly how Apple’s algorithm works, other than it takes into account some combination of downloads and velocity – or for Top Grossing applications, revenue. Apple Music managed to rack up 15 million listeners in spite of the ruckus, though who knows how many more subscribers would’ve stuck around if their libraries had remained intact?

You may find yourself accidentally pressing “record” — though you do get a warning before you go “live,” to save you from potentially embarrassing moments. It’s also worth pointing out that the apps in question are odd in and of themselves because they are listed as paid applications, but are actually available for free to most users.

So when the iPad Pro went on sale and its accessories, specifically the long-awaited Pencil, were in short supply, Pro buyers were more than a little unhappy. Apple announced some time ago that iMovie, GarageBand, Pages, Numbers, Keynote and iTunes U would be free for those who activated or purchased a device on or after September 1, 2013 running iOS 8. Though the app’s clear interface may remind you of the kind of simple image adjustments and filters you can achieve in other apps like Instagram, Enlight lets you apply complicated effects like adjusting the image color curves, fixing errors and reducing noise. Apple won’t explain how its algorithm works, of course, but when Apple’s own software appears one day at the very top of the App Store then disappears entirely the next day, you know that something that not entirely above-the-board is going on. Buyers couldn’t line up at Apple stores to snag an Apple Watch at the height of the hype, and some watch models were on back-order for weeks after launch.

Pause works when you slowly move your finger around a phone’s screen in response to attractive, abstract graphics — the idea being that concentrating on such a simple task will calm your brain. Not being able to buy Apple’s latest device anywhere but online at Apple.com was a bit of a shock for buyers used to finding the latest gadgets in retail stores, too. In fact, as Macworld columnist Jason Snell said, the real Apple Watch party didn’t start until six months after its release, when Apple finally was able to fulfill demand in launch countries and widened the watch’s availability to include third-party retailers. 2015 will be remembered as the year malware finally penetrated the iOS App Store, proving that Apple’s walled garden isn’t impervious to infection. Honorable mentions for great apps in 2015 go to Microsoft’s Outlook (free on iOS and Android), a user-friendly email app that’s far better than the clunky old desktop version of Outlook, and to the communication app Slack (free on Android, iOS and as a beta test version on Windows), which has helped many a business team improve their internal office communication and reduce email stresses. Apps infected with malware managed to bypass the company’s security safeguards by using a modified, sketchy version of Xcode, the code used to write apps for iOS, OS X, watchOS, and tvOS.

Aimed at getting all the forgotten photos out of your phone’s camera reel and back in front of your eyes, Storehouse helps put together albums of images and videos for your viewing pleasure. XcodeGhost didn’t have a huge impact on apps, but it proved that sometimes developers will take shortcuts that Apple didn’t foresee, jeopardizing the safety of your devices in the process. That will change in the future, but people who drop $1300 on the 12-inch MacBook will face struggles that buyers of other MacBook models don’t, at least for awhile longer. Of course, Apple hasn’t come out and said, “Hey, world, we’re building an electric car!” But all signs point to a secret auto project in the works at 1 Infinite Loop.

It’s unclear if Apple is exploring an electric car or a self-driving one, but over the summer, documents revealed that Apple was on the hunt for a private facility to test something—presumably a car, since that facility is a former naval station where other self-driving vehicles have been tested. Apple has been interested in cars for some time—that’s why the company developed CarPlay, which puts the iPhone experience in your car’s dashboard.

The display is still a 7.9-inch, 2048-by-1536-pixel resolution, LED backlit display, but Apple now uses laminated displays with anti-reflective coating. And it’s much easier to see the display in bright light—there’s still a small amount of glare, but it’s so minor compared to the previous iPad mini models. This test is a lot more strenuous than my video test (it has an option to dim the screen, which I turned off), and I imagine it might be tougher on the battery that what most people do as work. Now, I don’t usually use any kind of iPad to take pictures, but there’s an old saying that goes something like, “the best camera is the one you have with you.” And sometimes, when you’re using your iPad, a photo moment appears, and, hence, the best camera you have is the iPad’s. With iOS 9, Apple released app slicing, which will help owners of 16GB iPads by installing smaller apps, but I would play it safe and get more storage.

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