Opinion

Consumer Reports warns Readers from Verizon’s iPhone 4

Consumer Reports doesn’t like the Verizon iPhone 4 any more than it liked the GSM version of the device that AT&T sells. In a blog post this week, the magazine criticized the iPhone 4 for being a mid-cycle replacement, and for being a CDMA device in the first place, like every other device Verizon sells. Indeed, the piece is full of what appear to those of us on the outside as inconsistent criticisms that hold Apple to standard no other handset maker is held to.

Verizon iPhone won't make AT&T Model an Endangered Species

...To read analysts’ opinions about AT&T’s net customer loss due to Verizon, it would appear they have apocalyptic lemming visions for perfectly good hardware. Estimated defectors range from hundreds of thousands to more than a million to several million. The low end of that estimate is possible; the higher estimate makes no sense.

AT&T will certainly lose some subscribers who stayed with the carrier or switched to it only because they loved the iPhone so mightily, and then became stuck because of early termination fees (ETFs) and the lack of interest in competing smartphones. But I don’t think the numbers add up to a massive net loss.

The customers that move to Verizon from AT&T have to shed working, valuable smartphones.

Everything You need to Know about the Verizon iPhone

It feels like we've been talking and writing about the potential of Verizon selling an iPhone forever. And now that it's finally here we know you have questions.

Here's everything we know so far about the iPhone 4 from Verizon's press conference this morning.

Why the Verizon iPhone doesn’t Spell Disaster for AT&T

Verizon is about to deliver a blow to AT&T when it ends the network’s exclusive hold on the iPhone, but it definitely won’t be the end of the world for the second largest carrier in the U.S.

Earlier this week, Verizon announced a press event for Tuesday in New York City. All signs indicate that Verizon will introduce the iPhone on its network and launch it in the next few weeks. At this point, nobody should be surprised: it’s Apple’s worst-kept secret.

Since the news broke about Verizon’s event, there has been no shortage of media reports about the potential negative impact of the Verizon iPhone on AT&T. Some of it has devolved into (justifiable) AT&T bashing, and some predict that it’ll be a major or even mortal blow to the nation’s second largest network.

Let’s take a step back and keep some objective perspective, though.

2010 in Review: The Year for the Mac

In 2010, iOS (Apple's mobile operating system) and iOS devices (iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad) commanded the spotlight for much of the year. And for over nine months, Mac users saw the usual computer updates from Apple, but not much else. The combination of the iOS success and the stagnant Mac led some vocal tech analysts, pundits, and even Mac users to ponder whether Apple gave a damn about the Mac anymore. Some even went so far as to declare the Mac dead.

To paraphrase literary icon Mark Twain, the death of the Macintosh was an exaggeration, considering what Apple has in the works. On the last day of 2010, let’s take a look back at the previous 12 months, from a Mac perspective.

Mac Gems of 2010

With the end of the year just around the corner, and our our 2010 Eddy Awards and 2010 App Gems Awards in the history books, it’s time to take a look at the Mac Gems of the Year—the best of the jewels of the Mac software market. Mac Gems are by definition great, affordable software, but these are the ones that I feel stood out in 2010 for their usefulness, value, innovation, or overall excellence.

Which Online Backup Service is Right for You?

If you don’t back up your Mac’s files, then it’s a matter of when—not if—you’ll lose data that’s precious to you. Apple already robbed Mac users of any excuse not to back up regularly with Time Machine. But a single bad power surge, or a true disaster like fire or vicious weather, could render your Time Machine backups worthless.

Fortunately, off-site backup is easier than ever. A slew of Web services offer affordable online backup for your Mac. These services are often simple to use as well: you install software from the service on your computer, and it backs up your files over the Internet. By keeping current copies of your treasured data far away from your home, you can feel far more confident that your files are safe.

I looked at six online backup providers: Backblaze, Mozy, Carbonite, JungleDisk, Dropbox, and CrashPlan.

Year of the Tablet, or the Year of the iPad?

Last year, as 2009 came to a close, I wrote a blog post predicting that 2010 would be the “Year of the Tablet.” This was several months before the Apple iPad would be announced by Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s chief executive.

I said then that 2010 would bring a number of tablet computers to the market, including innovative products from Apple, Microsoft, Google and other PC manufacturers, that would change the face of computing and the way we consume magazines, newspapers, video and other Web content.

So much for predictions.

How the iPad changed 2010

Less than a year ago, some technology pundits questioned whether Apple's "iTablet" would find any buyers. InfoWorld ventured to explain "Why Apple's rumored iTablet will fail big time," while VentureBeat's 2010 predictions included the claim that "tablets will fail."

Fast-forward to the end of 2010, and the iPad is a smash hit. eMarketer predicts that Apple will sell 13.3 million iPads this year, and one survey ranked the iPad as the most-wanted gift this holiday season. But the iPad has reshaped more than just the device market: From publishing to web design, we're seeing the iPad change the world in unexpected ways.

Macworld's 2010 App Gems Awards

Mobile apps have become so widespread, it’s easy to forget that the App Store only debuted in the middle of 2008. Yet here we are, nearly two and a half years later, with hundreds of thousands of apps available for download, and more on the way every day.

Don’t think for a moment, though, that app developers are in danger of falling into a rut. Apple looked to keep things fresh in 2010 by releasing an entirely new class of device (the iPad), two devices with majorly updated screen resolutions (the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch) and a new version of the operating system that powers them (iOS 4) that's packed with hundreds of new features. The very best mobile apps of the year took advantage of the new hardware and software.

After all the App Store action of 2010, we've surveyed the store, our editors, and our contributors. The result? The two-dozen winners of our App Gems awards emerged from the pack as our favorite iOS offerings from the past year.

Switcher Profile: Joshua Kors has No Idea How to Use a Mac, returns It

Investigative reporter Joshua Kors recently switched to the Mac ... then switched right back. It turns out that he and his iMac weren't a good fit for one another. That's potentially understandable; switching to the Mac is easier for some people than for others. If a switcher doesn't have anyone there to walk him through the process, he might get so frustrated by the little differences between Windows and Mac OS X that he may wonder why he bothered switching at all.

On the other hand, some of the more minor difficulties and situations that crop up in the first days of Mac use really shouldn't have been beyond the grasp of someone with Kors' impressive credentials. Those of us who are experienced in using Macs may read through Kors' piece and either laugh or shake our heads in wonder, but someone who knows nothing about using a Mac may read it and take it at face value.

To anyone who's read through Joshua Kors' account of his nightmare experience with the Mac, here's a disclaimer you may be familiar with from commercials: results may vary. In fact, if you have even basic computer literacy skills, you'll likely find switching to the Mac a far more pleasant experience than Kors did.

Why Verizon needs the Apple iPhone Sooner rather than Later

With no iPhone to offer customers, Verizon has turned largely to Google Android smartphones. On the surface, that strategy has paid off as Verizon continues to hold the top spot for mobile subscribers in the U.S., although AT&T is nipping on its heels. But detailed data showing Verizon’s smartphone sales surfaced this weekend, and if the information is accurate, paints a different picture: Verizon needs Apple’s iPhone, or else it risks losing its biggest carrier status.

Verizon’s strategy to offer several Android phones actually hasn’t competed well: add up the total number of Android phones Verizon has sold in the last few quarters and AT&T has still sold more iPhones.

iPhoto ’11: The best on the Mac

iPhoto ’11 is a solid improvement that makes the $49 cost of an iLife ’11 upgrade worth the cost of admission on its own.

Admittedly, this is an evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, improvement to Apple’s cornerstone iLife app. Despite the interface changes and the output improvements and numerous other enhancements, iPhoto remains, at its core, a photo cataloging and sharing app squarely aimed at consumers. So if you’re expecting a lot of professional photo or image editing features, you’re barking up the wrong tree. But I challenge you to find another consumer photo app on the Mac or any other platform with anything close to the features and ease of use of iPhoto.

The Rock Star of Corporate America

Steve Jobs is known as both mercurial and visionary, part rock-star CEO and part master salesman, a meticulous micromanager who can drive his employees to distraction — and one of the most important figures in American industry in the past half-century.

Jobs’s tenure as the chief executive at Apple Inc. during the past 10 years is well-documented. After pulling his own company back from the brink of bankruptcy before the decade started, he almost single-handedly went on to save the recording industry with the iPod and iTunes. He revolutionized handheld devices and touch-screen technology with the iPhone. And he may well usher in a post-PC era of computing with his latest gadget, the iPad.

“The resurrection of Apple is just the most astounding story that’s probably happened in business in at least a decade — you might be able to go further and say it’s a half-century,” says Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies, a technology-industry think tank. “It’s on par with Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell in terms of its total impact.”

10 Apps that make Magic on Your iPad

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPad and referred to it as a magical device, lots of people snickered. Silly people.

Most iPad owners will tell you that it can indeed inspire the kind of astonishment you might have felt while watching your first magic show — that is, if the device is properly loaded.

Here are my 10 favorite apps, plus a few extras to make the iPad magic happen.

Christmas Lights and a Contest to Win Olympus Cameras!

Far too much food, not enough time, too much traffic, too many relatives, crowded malls, dry turkey, Lumpy gravy, lousy weather. BAH! HUMBUG!

But the nice folks at Olympus are going to try and make your Holiday Season a bit more enjoyable. More about that later but first, as mentioned in last week’s column, we are going to talk about taking photos this time of the year.

Mac of the Future: the OS

These days, it’s easy to take Mac OS X for granted. Sure, we all love our Macs and the applications we use. But what has the operating system done for us lately? Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) was released a year and a half ago, but most of its changes were under the hood. The last release to include significant user interface enhancements was Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard), which is now more than three years old.

If Mac OS X has seemed neglected lately, it probably has a lot to do with iOS hogging all of Apple’s attention. Since Leopard’s release, iOS has gone through four major revisions, each bringing important new features to iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches.

For the next iteration of Mac OS X, Apple has taken inspiration from the defining characteristic of iOS: simplicity. Just as the Mac was originally a friendlier alternative to command-line operating systems, iOS today stands in stark contrast to Mac OS X and other powerful, but still relatively complex, desktop operating systems. Apple plans to use what it has learned from iOS to make Mac OS X more approachable and even easier to use.

Photography for Beginners: Holiday gift Giving (and Getting) Part 2

Last week, we talked about some gear and gadgets you could put on your Holiday Wish List for yourself or your favorite photographer. This week, we’ll look at some more fun things, including software.

The best and worst part about buying apps for your photographer friends is that while there are hundreds of great ones to choose from and you won’t go wrong buying any of the ones I’ve suggested, the price point makes you look like a cheap skate if you only give one or two. It’s a shame that the iTunes App Store doesn’t allow you to create a bundle of apps to give. But until it does, pick five or ten and fill that virtual Christmas stocking.

Retail Chief draws Connections: Apple & Public Issues

China is becoming the most significant player in the world, according to Sr. V-P Retail Ron Johnson during a recent Minneapolis civic meeting, perhaps an encouraging lesson to government leaders in the United States who are facing employment and financial crises.

Johnson spoke in September to the city’s Civic Caucus while in the Business Briefing Center of Apple’s new Uptown store. As part of the group’s on-going speaker series, he explained his approach to retail, and how the concepts might apply to the government sector. The Caucus was formed in 1950 as a way to bring together citizens to analyze and recommend solutions to critical public issues, and has hosted government leaders, politicians, education officials and economic experts. Johnson grew up in nearby Edina (Minn.), and said he’s followed the Caucus’ work over the years.

He began his talk by cautioning that his main life focus is family and Apple. “I don’t devote many cycles to solving public problems, so please keep my experience in perspective,” he said, according to a transcript released by the Caucus.

Photography for Beginners: Holiday gift giving (and getting)

‘Tis the season — to stress out about getting the perfect gift, for the perfect someone. Or even yourself (it’s been a tough year, go ahead and treat yourself!).

But I’m here with good news — if you are or know a beginning photographer, there is no one easier to shop for. There are plenty of gift ideas that will fit any budget.

AirPrint works as Far as it Goes

When you think about it, it’s amazing how much actual work you can get done with just an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. You can create, read, and edit everything from documents to email and spreadsheets from just about anywhere.

But let’s face it, beautiful as it is, the iPhone’s screen doesn’t allow you to view much of a large spreadsheet or document all at once. Sometimes you just need a hard copy. While you can get most anything from your iOS device to a printer, it can be a clunky, time consuming hassle. That explains why AirPrint was the one of the most anticipated features of iOS 4.2, the new operating system for Apple's mobile devices.

At launch, however, AirPrint is so limited as to be of little use to most people.

What Makes a Stellar iOS App?

A book editor friend called me up a few months ago. How would I like to research and write a 200-or-so page tome of iOS app reviews for Peachpit Press? I had to think about it a moment. There were over 250,000 (now over 300,000) programs in the App Store. While I had used dozens of them, this would require finding and testing several hundred. I decided it was worth the challenge.

Several hundred apps later, I had come up with a number of criteria for what makes a good app. However, I didn’t try to assign point values and weight them. I let the gestalt of an app decide for it. I wanted to include apps that I could recommend to people looking either for something fun to do, or who had an itch that needed scratching. To that end, here’s what guided my thinking, and I share this in the hopes of it helping current and future iOS developers make better apps.

Understanding Airplay in Apple’s iOS 4.2

Apple on Monday released an upgrade to its iOS operating system that brings a number of iPhone functions (apps folders, multitasking, apps running in the background, for example) to the iPad.

But one of the most intriguing changes included in the upgrade, iOS 4.2, is something Apple is calling Airplay. Simply put, Airplay is a feature that allows wireless streaming of audio and video content from one device to another. This is a way for Apple to address a continuing issue surrounding digital media today: how to get things loaded on one device onto another.

The Mac is Back

Last month, Steve Jobs took to the stage, most likely for the final time this year, to launch a new version of iLife and new updates to the MacBook Air line. More importantly, he spent a lot of time talking about the product line as a whole, how the Mac and iOS platforms relate to each other and what the future of the Mac might look like with the next generation of OS X, now known as Lion. There’s been a lot of speculation as to what the ramifications of all this are. Here’s my take on what it all means.

10 Great Features and 10 Features iOS 4.2 still Needs

10 Great iOS 4.2 Features - There are a lot of features, both big and small, in this update, so the Macworld staff has assembled a list of those that most significantly enhance Apple’s mobile devices.

10 Features iOS 4.2 still Needs - We took an informal survey of Macworld editors to determine the most-hoped-for features that still aren’t here, then whittled the list down to the top ten.

MacBook Air Outperforms most Windows Netbooks and Ultraportables

We already know the 2010 MacBook Air models significantly improve on the previous generation in overall performance, but how do they stack up against Windows 7 laptops of similar size? Judged solely on performance, they dominate. With Windows 7 running on Apple’s featherweight machines, our test results indicate that the new Airs ran faster than all but one recent netbook or ultraportable from Windows PC vendors.

The PCWorld Labs team used Apple's Boot Camp application to load Windows 7 on new 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air models. Then we benchmarked them using our WorldBench 6 test suite and using the games Call of Duty 4 and DiRT 2. The result: For their size, the Airs are hard to beat on raw performance. Their battery life is relatively anemic, however, especially when compared to netbooks. And--no surprise--they carry a significant price premium.

Photography for Beginners: The Big Boys — DSLR

DSLR stands for “Digital Single Lens Reflex.” To many photographers, it stands for power — the power of control and creativity.

I just got off the phone with “The Publisher” and he asked, “Why? Why are you doing a column on DSLRs? It’s a beginning digital photography column — beginners aren’t going to use these cameras, are they?”

First off, he’s right — the majority of people who take photographs, and certainly the vast majority of beginners, aren’t going to be using DSLRs. But just like car magazines do reviews of the latest Ferrari super car, it’s nice to know what the pros use and it gives you something to aspire to.

Photography for Beginners: Why Buy a Point and Shoot?

In the last column, we talked about how an iPhone makes for a perfectly capable and in some ways, even a superior camera for many people. So why would anyone even bother to buy a small pocket sized camera (cameras often referred to as Point and Shoots or P&S for short)?

You wouldn’t — if you think the photos you take with the iPhone are good enough for your purposes. But let’s take a look at the pros and cons of a typical P&S.

Consumers have iPad Alternatives to Consider

After facing virtually no competition for months after releasing the iPad, Apple’s dominant market share faces a challenge as consumers consider purchasing tablets that could be viable iPad alternatives. Competition is always good, and tablets with Google’s Android OS could have a strong impact on the tablet market, said Jack Gold, principal analyst at J. Gold Associates.

“Android tablets within a year or year and a half could outsell the iPad. The market will be inundated with them,” Gold said.

Some buyers are looking at Android tablets to get features such as cameras, Flash compatibility, USB ports and full 1080p high-definition video capabilities, which are some prominent features the iPad lacks.

The iPad started shipping in April and became an instant hit, and Apple reported selling more than 7 million iPads by the end of September. But companies such as Samsung and Toshiba are knocking on the door, and will soon release Android tablets that include features the iPad doesn’t have.

The Sexy Details of how the iPad and MacBook will Hook Up

During the “Back to the Mac” event two weeks ago, Steve Jobs made a particularly witty remark as he unveiled the MacBook Air, one that made the audience chuckle in laughter:

“We asked ourselves, what would happen if a MacBook and an iPad hooked up? Well, this is the result, we think it’s the future of notebooks.”

There is always a strategic intent with the things that Apple says at product launches, especially when they come from Steve Jobs. This is because Apple cares deeply about the perception of its products. By intimating that the Air is the future, and that it blends the best of the MacBook Pro and iPad, Apple is signaling a lot. There is no doubt that this first phase in “hooking up” between the MacBook and iPad foretells a deeply converged future on many levels.