>WWDC Wrap Up: Lion Details, iOS Becomes Android, iCloud isn’t a Cloud

>Today, Apple’s big keynote at the World Wide Developer Conference happened to much fanfare. That is at least before the event happened. As was promised there was no new hardware announced and only covered Mac OS Lion, iOS 5, and iCloud. Here’s a wrapup of all three!

Lion: The newest version of Mac OS will have 250 new features, but only 10 were really talked about at length. The highlights include multitouch gestures with the touchpad, Versions, which autosaves your progress in documents, Keynote, etc. and allows you to see all previous versions in addition to the latest one, and the Mail app very closely mirrors the iOS version with conversation view. Lion will be available only through the Mac App Store (as a 4GB download) for only $30, due out in July.

iOS 5: This was really the high point of the keynote. iOS 5 will bring a total of 200 new user enhancements, but again only a small number were featured. Apple started, as usual, with some numbers. They claim that iOS is now the #1 mobile platform with 200 million iOS devices sold. This is a little deceptive since they included not just the iPhone, but iPad and iPod Touch, but impressive none the less. iOS 5 brings a ton of improvements. They redid the notification system, now called Notification Center, so there aren’t pop ups, but a panel of notifications accessed by swiping from the top of the screen. Notification Center is also shown on the lockscreen. Swiping to the left dismisses them and swiping to the right unlocks the screen and zooms you right to that item. Safari got a bunch of improvements. The iPad version looks just like the Mac version, but all iOS devices will have Reading List, which allows you to save articles for later and also pulls all text from multi-page items, but without the ads. iMessage was announced, allowing people on iOS devices to communicate with other iDevices through text, picture, video, and even send contacts. The camera got some extra features, like being accessed from the lock screen, being able to use the volume buttons to take pics, and editing features within the app. The best part of all is that the thin white cable has been cut. iOS devices will now be able to completely sync over WiFi and you won’t have to plug in to activate your iPhone. OS updates will now download over the air as well. iOS 5 goes out to developers today, but don’t expect it on your device until Fall.

Does any of this sound familiar? How about all of it? Every single feature mentioned in the iOS 5 unveiling has been featured in other operating systems, mostly Android. The notification system is almost identical to Android’s. They are both located at the top, showing each item, available in any app. Some builds of Android even have similar lockscreen notifications. iMessage is a direct attack on BlackBerry Messenger. Apparently Apple didn’t get the memo that people who love BBM don’t leave BBM, and no one else cares about device-specific messaging. Accessing the camera from the lockscreen is on HTC’s newest version of Sense, and Windows Phone can bypass the lockscreen all together by just holding the camera button. Android, Windows Phone, Zunes, and BlackBerry all sync over WiFi as well, and the iPhone was the only phone that needed to be plugged in to activate in the first place.

iCloud: This was definitely the low point of the presentation. “The Cloud” has been in existence for some time, but has recently hit its stride with services like Amazon’s Music, Google Music, and Dropbox. iCloud syncs your most important content across all of your iOS devices and Macs. Pictures are done through Photo Stream, a service that hosts all of your pictures (from iPhoto, your iOS devices, etc.) on your Mac, the last 1000 are stored on your iOS device and are hosted for 30 days on iCloud. iCloud also goes to your iTunes, allowing you to redownload music to your iOS device where ever you are, and purchasing a new song or album will push it to all of your devices. Same goes for the App Store. iCloud will replace MobileMe and will be free, starting today, for all who want it. It will be available on your iDevice when iOS 5 hits this fall.

The problem with iCloud is that its name is a bold-faced lie. There is nothing cloud about it. The cloud allows you to host your content, stored in a server God knows where. But iCloud doesn’t do that at all. It uses your devices’ memory as the host and there is no streaming whatsoever. You must download all your content before you do anything with it. Apple made sure to point out that this makes the whole process take hours instead of days. I have Google Music and I’ve used Amazon’s cloud service, and I can testify that it does take quite some time to upload all of that content. But the end result is that I don’t have to waste space on any of my devices to hold my content. My phone gets access to my entire library through Google Music without requiring any of it to be on my device at all. iSync is a far more accurate name.

I saved the best for last. Apple realizes that you might have music you didn’t get (legally or otherwise) through iTunes. But they have a solution for you! Their first idea was to rebuy the same tracks. Not buying that? Fine. Their iTunes Match service will comb through your library of “other” music and if it matches with Apple’s library music, you get the same benefits of iCloud as if you bought them. For $25 a year. You have to PAY to sync the music you ALREADY BOUGHT. This isn’t an editorial (for the most part), so I won’t rant too much. If you like that service, great. I just don’t see how Apple can say that you have to pay for music again with a straight face.

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>HTC EVO 3D Gets Official Price and Release Date

>After far too long of waiting, Sprint has finally finalized the details of its forthcoming flagship handset. The HTC EVO 3D will be hitting the sales floor on June 24th for the expected $200 price point. Preorders are still ongoing at Sprint stores, RadioShack, Target Mobile, and BestBuy.

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>Rant Bait: Sharing Passwords Apparently Makes You a Felon

>Earlier this week, Tennessee signed a new bill into law that will take effect July 1st. While this site normally wouldn’t cover legal news, this one is not only important, but it is beyond ridiculous and is a great example of the idiocy of our government when it comes to technology. This new law expands on old law that made it illegal to steal cable and dine and dash. Starting July 1st, it will be illegal to share your passwords to “entertainment subscription service” sites with anyone. No more sharing Netflix with anyone.

The bill was made specifically to stop pirates who sell user names and passwords in bulk, but the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Gerald McCormick even mentioned that it could be used to stop sharing with families and friends. Sharing less than $500 would be a misdemeanor, leading up to 1 year in jail or a $2500 fine, more if you go over $500. Tennessee’s governor, Bill Haslam, signed the bill into law after admitting that he wasn’t familiar with the details of it!

The problem is the wording of the law. What exactly is a “entertainment subscription service”? Here’s a few off the top of my head: Netflix, Rdio, Hulu Plus, Xbox Live, Amazon Instant Video, Audible, magazine subscriptions, newspaper subscriptions, online gaming such as World of Warcraft and Steam, even a gym membership. The list can go on because the law is written with insanely vague terms. Why is the law written so badly? The Record Industry Association of America has a huge presence in Tennessee, the country music capitol. A ton of tax money from the RIAA goes to them. For now, let’s assume that tax money is the only cash Ten. lawmakers get.

This law is so obviously completely written by the scumbags at the RIAA. I’m not advocating the wholesale auctioning of usernames and passwords. I’ve recently gone to paying for all my music and movies myself. But you cannot seriously tell me that I can’t share my Netflix account with my fiancee. We live in the same house. I have Netflix logged in on my TV. Am I supposed to tell her to buy her own subscription to use if I’m not there? I know my niece uses my brother’s Netflix account to get her daily fix of SpongeBob. With the amount she’s been watching, I can assure you that she’ll definitely spend her 3rd and 4th birthday behind bars because she’s not paying the bill.

Both the RIAA and the MPAA (the Motion Picture Association of America) have been run by people who didn’t think that this whole Internet thing would catch on. And then 15 years later they started doing something about it. Yes, they haven’t been making as much money as they used to. That’s because of their history of using DRM to make sure that if I buy a movie on DVD, I can’t rip it to my computer to watch it there or put it on my iPod. Heaven forbid I use the movie I just purchased in the manner of my choosing. Unfortunately, these backwards old men have a ridiculous amount of money. And it’s crap laws like this that show that they put a lot of that money into lobbying.

Molly Wood at CNET says it best. What these people fail to understand is that most people are willing to pay money for these services. The fact is, these idiot industries don’t make the content available. Then they wonder why nobody is buying their stuff. The economy is really bad now. Telling a family that they have to get their own individual “entertainment subscription services” for each member is beyond ridiculous. I encourage you all to write your congressmen and women. Tell them that what Tennessee is doing shameful and if they hope to get reelected that they laugh RIAA and MPAA lobbyists out of their office. I’m posting Rep. McCormick’s contact form below as well. Be intelligent. Don’t just tell him what a jackass he is. Tell him why. And tell him why people who aren’t in the pocket of the recording studios are against such nonsense. Tell it to Bill Haslam, who’s address is below (I’d love to give you his email, but his site’s Contact Us page is down). These people aren’t looking out for us. They are looking out for their own pocket, and it is not acceptable, and we should not just stand idly by.

Rep. Gerald McCormick: http://geraldmccormick.net/contact.htm

Gov. Bill Haslam: 1701 West End Avenue
Suite 300
Nashville, TN 37203

(615) 254-4799

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>RadioShack Thinks Nokia Astound Runs Android, Is Definitely Wrong

>Ah, The Shack. In recent years, it hasn’t been exactly known as the beacon of staying relevant in technology, and it’s stuff like this that highlights that point. This ad came from RadioShack’s most recent email ad. While always corny, they rarely ever contain blatantly incorrect information like this. For those who don’t know, Nokia has never produced an Android phone, and the Astound is no exception. This guy runs good old Symbian^3. Many might argue that Nokia should have been making Android phones, but this fail by RadioShack is a little presumptuous. But we’d like to thank The Shack for the chuckle it gave us this morning!

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Editorial: iAm So Sick of Phone Names and Boxes

>Every now and again, I like to post some opinions on this site. They usually come from a place of frustration, and sadly this time is no different. For those who don’t know, I sell phones for most of the main carriers. Over the past few years, I’ve sold countless models of phones, and I’ve noticed a few things they all have in common: Their names suck and their boxes suck.

First off, the naming thing. There are 3 types of phone names: Random Letters and Numbers, the Random Adjective, and Just Completely Random. The first one I shouldn’t have to explain why its terrible. Nothing quite says “Buy Me!” like the Samsung SGH-T259. The Random Adjective is usually just a straight up lie. The HTC Droid Incredible is not only an incredibly long name, but it’s really not that special, and I certain don’t feel incredulous when it’s in my hand. The Just Completely Random can be just as deceptive as the Random Adjective, and is therefore even more obnoxious. When I first saw the HTC Imagio, I thought it was a joke. Sadly, it was not.

Then there’s the boxes. Here’s your average box: On the outside, there’s a picture of the phone, maybe the carrier’s logo, the manufacturer logo, and the name of the phone. You open up the box, and there’s the phone, with the phone’s name on a screen protector (except for AT&T’s “No Texting And Driving” ones). Under that is the instruction book, battery, charger, maybe headphones just thrown in there. They’re all the same, with a few exceptions. For example, the Samsung Instinct’s box was killer. You had an outside glossy sleeve. That slid off to reveal a matte cardboard box with “Instinct” etched in. The box was in two pieces, no hinge. You lifted the top half off to show the phone almost framed by black cardboard. Below that was all the extra goodies, neatly boxed in cardboard cubbies. It was gorgeous. The best box ever? This guy:

You had to plug the box, which looks like it came from 2001: A Space Odyssey, into your computer, and when it pops open, fog comes out. Fog. Now obviously not all phones can come with a mini fog machine, but they can certainly be sexier. And when a company does try to go different, we end up with something like the Cup of EVO Soup:

Now let’s talk about the one product that does it all wrong: The iPhone. First off, not many people know, but the “i” stands for “individual”. Exactly what is “individual” about a phone that, up until recently, couldn’t even have a user-defined wallpaper? The iPhone is known as the least customizable device, and yet its name acts as if it was made specifically for you. The box follows the minimalistic style of the device itself. That’s fine. But it’s the same formula. Picture of phone: Check. Phone right under lid: Check. Other stuff just sitting there under that: Check. Yawn, yawn, yawn. Apple should embrace its old motto and think a little differently on it’s packaging.

So please, phone makers, start using more memorable names. The Mustang is an iconic car. It’s the Mustang. Its memorable, it gives a feeling of the power and style of the car. The LG Sentio tells you nothing about the phone. The Pantech Pursuit showcases that it’s behind the front runners. Your boxes might not seem all that important, but it is the first impression of the phone. Awesome hardware deserves an awesome packaging and an appropriate moniker.

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>Steve Jobs to Announce iCloud, iOS 5 at WWDC

>In a very un-Apple move, Apple just put out a short press release confirming that Steve Jobs (and other Apple execs) will be leading the keynote speech at the World Wide Developer Conference this Monday. Even stranger, they teased exactly what he’ll be announcing. While the iOS 5 updates and Mac OS Lion details aren’t surprising, they also name dropped “iCloud”. The release describes iCloud as a “cloud services offering”. What that actually means remains to be seen. It could be a revamp of MobileMe, it will most likely be bringing your music (at least) to the cloud, but all of that is just guesswork. Fortunately, we only have 6 days to worry about it. We’ll be keeping you posted on all the good stuff on Monday!

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>Plants vs Zombies Comes to Android, Free on Amazon Today

>Finally, the wait is over! The new classic Plants vs Zombies has broken the iOS barrier and made its way to Android. If you haven’t seen or heard of it before, it’s an awesome strategy game. You must use various plants to stop the zombie horde from reaching your house. It doesn’t sound very exciting, but the cartoon feel is infectious, the music is toe tapping, and the zombies are downright hilarious. It will normally be $2.99, but on the Amazon App store, you can find it as today’s free app. Go download it now. Seriously.

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