Apple Photos released as part of OS X 10.10.3 Beta

After removing mentions about its upcoming Photos app for OS X a few days ago, Apple today published a new website detailing the new features in the iPhoto (and Aperture) replacement. While the beta version for OS X 10.10.3 – which includes Photos – is available for testers only, Apple also made the new app available to some select news sites:

The app itself felt stable and looks a lot like an scaled up version of the iOS 8 Photos app. It works the same way when navigating between Photos, Shared Photos and Albums. The Photos view also has the same model of drilling down from a yearly overview, to location and date based automated photo groups.

One big gripe is the iCloud data storage used if you want to sync photos between your Mac and iOS devices. This requires a lot of space and Apple only gives you 5 GB, which is shared not only with the photos you want to upload but also iOS backups, iCloud mail and all apps that use iCloud to store anything online in Apple’s cloud service.

Apple offers a variety of upgraded storage options (from 20 GB for $0.99/month to 1 TB at $19.99/month) but that doesn’t take away from making 5 GB feel like it’s 2008. Sharing that little amount of free storage across multiple iOS devices gets tight quick.

It’d be a different story if Apple would give you 5 GB per active device. So if you had a Mac, iPhone and iPad using the same iCloud account, you’ll get a total of 15 GB for free.

When it comes to the actual editing Photos seems to be a mix of iPhoto and Aperture, while definitely aimed at users of the former. It’s not a professional app like Aperture, let alone Lightroom. If you’re looking for anything more that simple editing features, Adobe’s Lightroom is the place to look at. For regular users iPhoto should be more than enough though. It’s certainly possible that Apple could add more features over time like it did with Final Cut Pro X after it was released and everybody got up in arms over its missing features that were part of Final Cut Pro 7 before.

Photos should be a welcome update, coming some time later this spring, most likely with the release of OS X 10.10.3 which it was bundled with in today’s developer release.

Adobe releases new creative apps for iOS, updates Creative Cloud, various CC apps

Adobe today released a slew of updates for their Creative Cloud apps. While the main Creative Cloud app promises OS X Yosemite compatibility and battery life savings, apps like Premiere Pro and After Effects include “expanded support for HiDPI displays”. These updates can be found in the Creative Cloud app.

As part of Adobe MAX, Adobe’s annual conference, they also released a couple of new and updated apps for iOS that work hand in hand with Adobe’s desktop apps. Among them two apps for Illustration (Illustrator Line and Illustrator Draw) and Premiere Clip that – as the name implies – is a simple version of Premiere Pro. Clip is Adobe’s first video editing app for iOS.

On the Imaging side Adobe released Photoshop Sketch, as well as updates for Photoshop Mix and Lightroom for iPad and iPhone. While Photoshop Mix is now also compatible with the iPhone, Lightroom mobile gains a few new social features and the ability to sync GPS information between Lightroom for iPhone and the desktop app.

Two step authentication, app-specific passwords available on iCloud.com

After several bad news in the past weeks and months concerning Apple’s security, specifically for iCloud, the company is now offering some ways to enhance the protection of their users against intruders that might try to guess your password. Signing in to iCloud.com now requires you to enter a four-digit PIN to get access to your mail, contacts, calendar, etc.

This PIN can either be sent to you via SMS or directly to an iOS device. There’s no specific app needed to use your iOS device for this, the feature is integrated in iOS. The four-digit number will show up on your device via push notification.

Phone numbers and iOS devices can be registered and verified on your Apple ID profile.

This is also where Apple now lets you create app-specific passwords, for example if you’re using Outlook, or other 3rd party clients that need access to your data on iCloud.com. Starting on October 1st, these will become a requirement for iCloud users.

More information about app-specific passwords can be found on Apple’s support site. There’s also a Two-Step Verification FAQ available.

goto fail: Apple’s SSL/TLS bug – Update your devices now

This is an ugly one as Adam Langley over at imperialviolet.org describes:

Yesterday, Apple pushed a rather spooky security update for iOS that suggested that something was horribly wrong with SSL/TLS in iOS but gave no details. Since the answer is at the top of the Hacker News thread, I guess the cat’s out of the bag already and we’re into the misinformation-quashing stage now.

You can check if your browser is vulnerable over at gotofail.com.

Currently there are updates for iOS 7 – in form of iOS 7.0.6 – and iOS 6 – iOS 6.1.6. Both are available as OTA updates now. Apple even updated Apple TV to take care of that bug. The description of the bug is rather short though.

Google Chrome for iOS or OS X isn’t vulnerable. Safari for OS X 10.9+ (even the most recent 10.9.2 build) and iOS is – unless you update to iOS 7.0.6. It’s likely that Apple will provide an update for OS X and the beta builds in the (very) near future.

Do yourself a favor and update your iOS devices now.

Apple’s two-step verification available in Germany (and Canada, France, Japan, Italy, and Spain)

Apple has finally made two-step verification available in Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, and Spain. Enabling this feature will greatly improve the security for your Apple ID.

Apple doesn’t use an authenticator app like Authy or Google Authenticator to send their 4 digit codes to iOS devices. The code is either send directly to your iOS device or alternatively you can add a phone number that will receive a SMS containing the code. Additonally you get a recovery key in case you aren’t able to access any of your devices or forget your password.

Once Apple requires a code to authenticate yourself you can then decide on what registered device you want that code to show up. A few seconds later you get the code and you just have to enter it on your screen.

You can enable two-step verification for your account on Apple’s My Apple ID page. From there go to Password and Security.

Additional information about two-step verification can be found in Apple’s Frequently asked questions about two-step verification for Apple ID.

iOS 7: Updates for Instacast, OmniFocus, Instapaper and many more

With the release of iOS 7 today there have been a slew of updates for apps. Most of the updates are about the new design, but also bring new features coming with iOS 7.

Here are some of my favorites:

Instacast 4

Instacast

+ All new user interface optimized for iOS 7 and 4″ displays
+ Unlimited background downloads with no time limit
+ Redesigned notifications can be configured to immediately tell you if something new is available or only after it has been downloaded already and is ready to play
+ Redesigned episode list to efficiently jump to show notes, download on demand and indicate which episodes are locally cached
+ Redesigned multi-selection for editing episode properties, scheduling playback and downloading
+ New main menu sidebar to give access to major features quickly
+ New Up Next playback queue to quickly manage and schedule episodes that should be played in a row
+ Redesigned player to give faster access to show notes, Up Next and playback tools. Additionally the player customizes its user interface colors to optically match the podcast cover
+ New Now Playing bottom bar to better indicate what’s currently playing and give access to the player from everywhere

OmniFocus 2

OmniFocus

– Organize tasks by goals using projects, then work towards those goals more efficiently by grouping tasks using contexts.
– Synchronize your tasks with other copies of OmniFocus using Omni’s free Sync Server or other WebDAV servers, and receive updates even when you’re not looking at OmniFocus.
– Create new tasks quickly anywhere in the app, or by sending tasks from other apps such as Safari, Twittelator, or Riposte.
– Plan your day’s errands by listing nearby contexts or viewing them on a map.
– Receive notifications when a task becomes due, or when you happen to be near a context with available tasks.
– Tell Siri what’s on your mind, and it can go straight to your OmniFocus inbox.
– Break large tasks up into more manageable steps you can complete and track individually.
– Attach pictures and audio to your task notes, and synchronize them with other copies of OmniFocus.
– Get a Forecast of the week ahead right from the OmniFocus Home screen, tap in to see how due dates fit in with your Calendar schedule.
– Search the current list or your whole OmniFocus database.

Note that OmniFocus 2 isn’t an update but a new app.

Instapaper 5

Instapaper

* New look and feel
* Sort your “Read Later” article lists! You can order your articles by date, article length, popularity, or shuffle
* Filter your articles by reading time
* Better parsing and organization for videos
* New and improved Sepia theme
* Improved parsing abilities
* Darker splash screen for better night reading experience
* Translated in Spanish, Russian, Chinese and 10 other languages
* Fixed crashes when app opens and on theme change

… and last but not least, Instapaper has a new home at Betaworks!

All in all I already downloaded 50+ updates for my apps today.

Microsoft acquires (chunk of) Nokia — and their next CEO?

Ben Thompson — The Deal That Makes No Sense:

Moreover, the fact Steve Ballmer is stepping down makes a deal of this magnitude hugely problematic. Guy English has already characterized Ballmer’s disastrous reorganization as a straitjacket for the next CEO; adding on a mobile phone business that Microsoft probably should abandon is like attaching an anchor to said straitjacket and tossing the patient into the ocean. It will be that much more difficult for the next CEO to look at Windows Phone rationally.

MG Siegler – Microsoft to acquire Nokia’€™s… (Basically Nokia):

8) It’s actually a pretty decent use of overseas cash, which would otherwise be taxed if repatriated

and

9) Lighting the money on fire would have also saved it from being taxed.

Regarding 9) Does it?

No HTC First in the UK

Sharif Sakr for Engadget quoting UK provider EE:

“Following customer feedback, Facebook has decided to focus on adding new customization features to Facebook Home over the coming months. [..]”

That’s one way to say “nobody is buying it in the US, so why bother elsewhere?”.

Twitter launches two-factor authentication – if you’re able to get it

Jim O’Leary on the Twitter blog:

This is a form of two-factor authentication. When you sign in to twitter.com, there’s a second check to make sure it’s really you. You’ll be asked to register a verified phone number and a confirmed email address.

In general this is awesome news and definitely a step into the right direction. The biggest issue though: Because it is currently only based on SMS, it doesn’t work everywhere.

Twitter SMS verification Germany no carrier connection

And to add a little insult to injury: while trying to add your phone number, it shows a list of carriers – in my case in Germany, it’s E-Plus, O2, T-Mobile and Vodafone. But despite showing the carriers, I personally can confirm, that O2 doesn’t work. And I’ve heard that Vodafone or T-Mobile don’t work either. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t work with E-Plus.

Twitter SMS verification Germany

I’m surprised that Twitter didn’t launch with support for Google Authenticator, and as such, also with compatibility for other TOTP apps.