It’s long been rumoured that iOS 7 would bring about a shift in Apple’s design philosophy and with the keynote of this year’s World Wide Developers conference not only did we get to see the new user interface but within hours developers were able to download the first beta version and naturally I grabbed a copy immediately on release. The install was painless, a simple IPSW restore via iTunes though this version does feel very much like a beta having experienced more than a dozen crashes already within the first couple of hours (mainly with multitasking).
Having spent a little time with iOS7 I would say that visually it’s different enough to keep interest in the platform going, it may not be revolutionary but it certainly feels a lot more modern than iOS6 which somehow seemed old fairly soon after launch with the successive releases of Jellybean and Windows Phone 8. Putting aside the shiny-shiny UI changes the largest and most important steps are those that improve usability, making it easier to get to controls and settings and adding to Siri’s repertoire. There are some minor bugbears that jump out at me immediately too such as Calendar’s monthly view which no longer highlights busy days and Mail still throwing an error per-mailbox at you when it can’t connect when the reality is that your internet connection is down, I’m sure there will be more over the next few weeks as I use iOS7 on a daily basis as well. Now, on to the main features…
Death of a Thousand Flashlight Apps
Despite the inevitable focus on the UI changes iOS7 does bring about a number of new features, some might argue several are overdue however there’s a good level of innovation in there and even where Apple have ‘taken inspiration’ from others they’ve generally done it quite well. The highlights are…
Control Centre – swipe up from the bottom on any screen (including the lock screen) to see a new ‘quick settings’ screen providing access to music controls, screen brightness, wifi, bluetooth, torch, clock, calculators and the camera. You’ll notice that like much of iOS7 the translucent background creates quite a different feel depending on then wallpaper you’re using, in one example I’ve used a photo of myself whilst the other is the stock (animated) background.
Notification Centre – an updated UI matching the rest of iOS7 but with instant access from the lock screen to today’s calendar, missed calls/messages and the remainder of your notifications.
Multitasking - a new full-screen preview (looking suspiciously like WebOS) enables you flip between apps easily and ‘flick away’ apps to terminate them (Android anyone?).
Camera & Photos – a simplified interface allows users to swipe between Video, Photo, Square and Pano (yes, really – ‘square’ is now a picture type). Additionally, photos are now automatically organised into collections and grouped by year with small thumbnails…
Safari - possibly the largest (and most overdue) collection of improvements with the clutter and chrome gone entirely leaving substantially more space for content, the URL bar and search box are finally combined and coverflow is now being employed for changing tabs.
Siri - now includes Wikipedia & Twitter content and provides access to settings (e.g. brightness, Bluetooth)
General Look and Feel – I’ve spoken of the simplicity above, here’s a few screenshots to illustrate the new design ethos…
There are other features I’m yet to play with like iTunes Radio (not available in the UK yet), Airdrop file transfers, audio-only Facetime calls, turn-by-turn walking directions, etc. Apple also promises to be friendlier for business (which essentially means sysadmins), including data protection, license management, Mobile Device Management, wireless app configuration, enterprise single sign-on support – it will be interesting to see how useful the features are in practice.
Apple, Development, iPhone, Mobile Apps Tags:
Apple, Beta, iOS, iOS6, iOS7, iPad, iPhone, Mobile, smartphone
Having just purchased a copy of Office 2013 (no, really) I’ve just started to use it for serious work and immediately found the new cell animations in Excel to be irritating. What Microsoft don’t seem to grasp is that the people really making Excel the powerhouse that it is are the hardcore users, you know the type – they’re often management accountants, business intelligence developers, data warehousing types who handle large volumes of data constantly. Most businesses only have small number of these ‘Excel Elite’ who get called upon to solve problems, design spreadsheets and generally keep the whole Excel ecosystem afloat and what do they want? They want simple, predictable behaviour, consistent across new versions and nothing that causes distraction or having to re-learn where to find features (Ribbon I’m looking at you).
Excel 2013′s latest addition to the ‘irritation toolkit’ is animated cell selection. This feature genuinely benefits nobody and serves only to add lag to cell selection, even on new powerful new PCs since the animation needs time to complete otherwise you wouldn’t see it. So, how do you disable it? Well, it’s not as simple as a setting in Excel – this is a setting in Windows (I’m running Windows 8 by the way), the risk here is that you’ll be disabling something else fancy that you do want but if you’re a heavy Excel user this will be much more worthwhile I expect.
To disable cell selection animations:
- Go to Control Panel.
- Search for “Performance” (actually, just “Perf” will do).
- Click on “Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows”.
- Un-tick the “Animate controls and elements inside windows” option and click “OK”.
Screenshots of the main screens are below should you have trouble finding the options…
So after you connect to your work VPN I expect you’ll need to get access to files, in this case we’ll assume it’s a Windows file server and you’ve been given a path to connect to that looks something like this:
Now, since Windows works a little differently to Mac OSX (and Linux / Unix) you’ll need to change that a little so before we start the next steps get your file server path ready and looking like this:
Then follow these steps:
1. Open the Finder from the Dock (usually at the bottom of the screen), if you can’t find this cmd-tab to it.
2. From the Finder’s “Go” menu choose Connect to Server (or just press cmd-K)
3. Type “smb://” followed by your reformatted file path as follows, then hit the “+” key…
4. Click on the newly added Favourite Server and then click Connect.
5. Enter your credentials when prompted then click Connect…
Setting up a Cisco IPSec VPN on Mountain Lion is pretty straight-forward however I always forget the steps when I need to run through it with someone else so I thought I’d document the steps. These all assume you have an admin username/password on the Mac in question and that you have all of your VPN details provided by your IT team…
1. Go to System Preferences on the Apple menu (top-left of screen)
2. Choose the Network settings pane (you may need to back out of a previous pane first)
3. If you need to ‘unlock’ the pane, click the padlock and do so then/otherwise click the + icon
4. Choose Interface = VPN, Type = Cisco IPSec then choose a suitable name for Service Name. Click Create.
5. Fill in the IP address and user name fields, then click Authentication Settings
6. Fill in your Shared Secret and Group Name, click OK. Click, Apply and close System Preferences.
7. On the title bar, click the VPN icon (doesn’t really resemble anything relevant), then choose your new VPN service.
8. Fill in your username/password (special considerations may apply for RSA Tokens, etc.) and click OK. You may receive a message at this point regarding security, read and click OK as appropriate.
9. Counter appears on title bar whilst VPN is connected.
10. To disconnect open the menu from the VPN icon once more.
I had a situation recently where scheduled Business Objects reports began to fail with the error message: “Object failed to run due to insufficient security privileges. “. Having spent some time googling the error there seem to be many potential causes if permissions have been changed but in this case it turned out that a user had been deleted. In Business Objects (XI R3.1 at least), when a user is deleted their scheduler instances will be allocated to the Administrator who, despite having scheduler privileges, appears not to be able to execute scheduled reports.
The only solution I could find was to manually reschedule all reports previously owned by the deleted user, if anyone has any better solutions or knows of a method to make a bulk change rather than individually I would love to hear it!
Despite the fact that the last event seems like only a few months ago it’s nearly time again for Mobile World Congress, as usual there are a raft of competitions around offering tickets to lucky entrants so I thought I’d collate the ones I’ve come across here.
For anyone unfamiliar with MWC, it’s an annual coming together of the entire mobile industry from network operators (MNOs), manufacturers such as Samsung, LG, Nokia, HTC, software and services companies like Google, and a whole host of companies making apps, accessories, etc. Having been once (see my MWC Impressions post), it’s quite an experience and well worth going if you can make it.
Anyway, on to the list – if you spot any I’ve missed please leave a comment and I’ll bump it up into the post.
It’s not always obvious when the open/closed dates are so I apologise if any of the above are no longer valid, please leave a comment if you find that to be the case and I’ll remove the link.
Communication, Development, Events, Mobile Apps, Mobile Web Tags:
apps, GSMA, MNO, Mobile, mobile world congress, MWC, mwc13, mwc2013