Review: Fantastical 2 for Mac graduates to a full calendar replacement w/ Yosemite widget+extension, much more

Fantastical 2 Mac 1

Fantastical’s ability to parse natural language input and create detailed appointment entries on your calendar has always been the primary reason to use it instead of or in addition to Apple’s own Calendar app on the Mac. Apple Calendar has picked up some language parsing smarts in recent updates, too, but it still doesn’t match Fantastical’s control and real-time appointment preview.

Still, I say in addition to because Fantastical for Mac has lived in the menu bar next to your clock, WiFi status, and other utilities where you can quickly access it for reference or adding an appointment from anywhere in the OS. The menu bar app includes a compact month view calendar above a streamlined, scrollable list view of appointments and reminders, but sometimes it’s nice to stretch out and view your schedule in a different context.

So when Fantastical first debuted on iPad almost a year ago putting the efficient list view next to a larger full calendar, I wrote optimistically that “the iPad’s app design could spill over into a future version of the Mac app (maybe as a dock app rather than a menu bar app).”

What Fantastical 2 for Mac actually became is even better: the same menu bar calendar users know and love (but new and improved!), and a full-sized calendar app with an optional dock icon. Both have been designed with the aesthetics of OS X Yosemite in mind and loads of under-the-hood features and improvements including the ability to actually change which calendars you see based on your location. Read more

Apple acquires database software makers FoundationDB to speed up cloud services

FoundationDB

Apple has reportedly acquired database company FoundationDB, according to a new report from TechCrunch. The report cites sources and notes that the company is no longer offering downloads of its main database software product after posting the following notice to its website:

Thank you for your support of FoundationDB over the last five years. We’re grateful to have shared our vision of building the best database software and we strongly value your participation in this community. We have made the decision to evolve our company mission and, as of today, we will no longer offer downloads.

As noted in the report, Apple is likely looking to improve its cloud services with the acquisition: Read more

iCloud users report Gmail “too many rejections” errors, extended delivery delays

icloud

Numerous complaints in Apple’s discussion forums have spotlighted a problem preventing iCloud.com and me.com email addresses from receiving Google Gmail messages, with delays lasting hours or days.

Update: The issue appears to have been quietly resolved as of March 18, with Gmail to iCloud emails taking only a minute. Read more

Apple releases first OS X 10.10.3 Public Beta with new Photos app

Apple today released the first Public Beta of the upcoming OS X Yosemite 10.10.3. The new release includes the iCloud-based Photos application for the Mac, new Emojis across the system, and simpler login to Google accounts for profiles with two-factor authentication enabled. This beta is labeled as build 14D87, which is the same as the second 10.10.3 beta for developers, which was released a week ago. The Public Beta is available in the Mac App Store Software Update tab for registered beta users. Apple plans to release the first Public Beta of iOS 8.3 in mid-March, according to sources. Thanks, DJ!

Read more

iOS 8 How-to: Set up and Use Find My iPhone, iPad and iPod touch

Find My iPhone

Find My iPhone was first released in June 2010 initially for the iPhone. Now, Find My iPhone allows you to track the location of your device, be it an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, in case it gets lost or stolen. This is a great benefit because when you locate your device using Find My iPhone, the device makes noise until it is found and will show you were it is located using Apple Maps. Recently, the police used Find My iPhone to track and save a woman’s life. However, Find My iPhone did require the device to be turned on and connected to the internet in order for it to work completely. New with iOS 8, you have the option to automatically send the location of the device to Apple when the battery is critically low. In this how-to I will discuss how to set up Find My iPhone, and how to use Find My iPhone.

Read more

Activation Lock has reduced iPhone theft by 25% in NY, 40% in SF, 50% in London

activation-lock-02

Officials in three major cities have reported dramatic reductions in iPhone thefts since Apple introduced Activation Lock as part of iOS 7, preventing devices being re-activated without the original owner’s iCloud login. Reuters reports that the number of reported iPhone thefts has fallen year-on-year by 25% in New York, 40% in San Francisco and 50% in London …  Read more

Apple’s new Photos app means big future changes for free photo storage

Photos for Mac

Apple yesterday released a preview of its upcoming all-new Photos app for Mac, which replaces iPhoto and Aperture with a simpler all-in-one photo editor and library manager. Most of the discussion of Photos focused on the huge number of changes from iPhoto and Aperture, burying one very important detail: Apple is changing the way it handles cloud-based photo storage.

Before Photos, Apple offered free storage of photos with limitations in a feature called Photo Stream, which didn’t count against iCloud storage. But the new Photos app uses Apple’s beta iCloud Photo Library feature, which was recently added in iOS 8.1. iCloud Photo Library promises to let you synchronize your entire photo collection including edits and albums across all of your devices… but you have to share your iCloud storage with photos, and album syncing and edits don’t apply to the free 1,000 – 25,000 image storage of Photo Stream.

As most long-time iOS users know, the free 5GB of iCloud storage Apple offers is often not enough to store much more than a single device backup, and for many that will mean no spare room for a photo collection. Consequently, Apple is suggesting that users should buy additional iCloud storage, paying monthly fees to store and sync their photos. As the Photos app is rolling out, Apple is allowing users to stick with the old Photo Stream feature and continue using the new Photos app without turning on the iCloud Photo Library. But it remains to be seen if that will be an option long-term once Photos is released publicly and how users will respond when they find out their free 5GB iCloud storage isn’t cutting it for their photo collection…

Read more

Apple invests $2b in failed GTAT sapphire plant to create global command center

gtat

Following the October surprise bankruptcy filed by GT Advanced Technologies—a key sapphire supplier for the iPhone—Apple today announced plans to invest $2 billion over the next 30 years in the failed plant. The Mesa, Arizona-located plant will become the central command center for its various data centers around the globe.

“We’re proud to continue investing in the U.S. with a new data center in Arizona, which will serve as a command center for our global networks,” Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Cupertino, California-based Apple, wrote in an e-mailed statement on Monday. “This multibillion-dollar project is one of the largest investments we’ve ever made.”

Shortly after the bankruptcy announcement from GT Advanced Technologies, Apple described the decision as surprising while adding that the company would focus on job preservation. Read more

1Password for iOS adds one-time password tool for two factor auth, new login creator, more

The popular secure password management app 1Password is out with a big update today adding new features on both iOS and Mac. Arriving in version 5.2 of 1Password for iOS is a new login creator tool, a one-time password tool for use with two factor auth, new entry fields for pro users, and more. On the Mac side, 1Password version 5.1 was released adding a number of improvements to sync. This includes the ability to sync secondary vaults to iOS over WiFi. More on the major new features below:

Read more