Changing the conversation: How Apple could modernize iMessage to be more powerful and easy to use

Previews

At this year’s WWDC, Apple devoted a lot of onstage attention to a revamp of the Notes app in both iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan. One of my favorite additions is inline web link previews. Just paste a URL, and Notes will turn the link into a preview bubble with a thumbnail for the page, as well as a title and description.

This got me thinking about the possibility of applying the same functionality to other apps. The most obvious place to start, in my opinion, is Messages. I’m constantly sending and receiving links through iMessage throughout the day, whether it’s to a web page, an image, or even just a tweet. Having to flip back and forth between Safari and Messages just to see what the link I’ve been sent is removes me from the conversation and slows down my workflow.

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Apple Watch How-To: Take and share screenshots from your Apple Watch

Apple Watch Screenshot

Now that you have your Apple Watch, you might be curious to know how to take a screenshot from your your new device. The process is a little different from taking screenshots on an iPhone or iPad and the photos aren’t automatically saved to the watch, but you may want to screenshot fitness and activity achievements or show friends your customized Apple Watch face. In this how-to article I will quickly discuss how to take a screenshot on your Apple Watch and how you can make the process easier.

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Opinion: Google’s new Photos may just have won my library away from Apple

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Google Photos

My relationship with Apple’s hardware is simple: I’m happily locked in, and not changing platforms any time soon. But my relationship with Apple’s software is complex: I want to love it, but every time Apple decides to “throw everything away” and “start over” with an app, it’s disruptive — and for many users, unnecessary. From my perspective, users weren’t complaining that Apple’s popular photo apps iPhoto or Aperture were hopelessly broken or even deficient in major ways, yet Apple discontinued both of them last month to release Photos, a bare-bones alternative no one seems to love. On the relationship scale, I didn’t abandon Aperture; Aperture abandoned me (and a lot of other people).

So yesterday’s announcement of the free cross-platform photo and video storage app Google Photos couldn’t have come at a better time. Apple has struggled to explain why it now offers two separate photo syncing services, neither with the virtually unlimited photo and video storage Google is now giving users — notably all users, including Mac and iOS users. Moreover, Apple has offered no sign that it’s going to drop the steep fees it’s charging for iCloud photo storage. With WWDC just around the corner, Apple has a big opportunity to match Google’s photo and video initiative, thrilling its customers in the process. If that doesn’t happen, I’m moving my collection into Google Photos, and not looking back…

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Google introduces competitors to Apple Pay, Photos, HomeKit + new iOS apps at I/O

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Google just wrapped up the opening keynote for its I/O developer conference taking place this week, and not surprisingly many of the announced products and services are direct competitors to Apple’s. Android Pay gets an official coming out party to compete with Apple Pay, Project Brillo is Google’s answer to HomeKit, and the new Android M gets a focus on quality, much like what Apple has in store for iOS 9 at WWDC in June. The company also announced a new Photos app with unlimited photo and video syncing and iOS support, as well as a number of other iOS app announcements.

Head below for a roundup of everything Google announced today from 9to5Google: Read more

Apple CEO Tim Cook shares photos from recent trip to China (Gallery)

Tim-Cook-China-tour-01

Tim Cook has shared photos from his recent trip to China where the Apple CEO spoke to media about upcoming initiatives in the country and visited new Apple retail stores opened in the region. The photos (above and below) were posted to Cook’s new Weibo account. The head Apple exec started posting to the Chinese microblogging site, much like he does on Twitter, earlier this month. Read more

How-To: Safely shrink your Mac’s giant photo library, deleting duplicate images to save space

I’ve focused a lot over the last few months on helping readers to speed up and optimize Apple’s Macs — everything from adding RAM to recovering hard drive space and upgrading old hard drives to faster SSDs. Today’s How-To is focused on something very specific but with a lot of optimization potential: trimming down your Mac’s photo library.

Particularly after installing OS X 10.10.3 with Apple’s new Photos app, you might be surprised to learn that you’ve lost a lot of hard drive space, and that there are suddenly tons of duplicate photos on your Mac. After installing OS X 10.10.3, the new Photos app converted my 90GB Aperture library into a 126GB Photos library, and left both on my hard drive. That’s an incredible amount of wasted space attributable to duplicates, so it’s no surprise that a $1 utility called Duplicate Photos Fixer Pro has recently become the #1 paid Mac App Store app, while a superior alternative called PhotoSweeper ($10) is in the top 50. I’ve used both apps, as well as many others, and can help you choose the one that’s best for your needs…

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Adobe debuts Lightroom 6 and Lightroom CC, standalone and cloud alternatives to Aperture

Following months of rumors, Adobe is today announcing Photoshop Lightroom 6 and Lightroom CC, the latest versions of its popular photo editing and organization software. Sharing the same code, design, and much of the same functionality, the two Lightroom releases are separated into purchasable (Lightroom 6) or subscription (Lightroom CC) versions, only the latter of which can sync with Adobe’s mobile applications. Apple notably recommended Lightroom as a replacement for its recently-discontinued Aperture professional photo application, and worked with Adobe to build an Aperture library importing tool to aid users during the transition.

Lightroom manages large photo libraries, while offering photographers powerful tools for RAW and JPEG image adjustment. Now solely a 64-bit application, Lightroom 6/CC promises huge speed improvements when applying prior effects to images, as well as newly added tools and brushes. As shown in the embedded video, facial recognition has been added, enabling functionality similar to Apple’s Faces feature from Aperture and iPhoto. A new HDR (high dynamic range) tool uses two images to create a composite photo with more vivid colors and detail, while brushes such as radial and graduated filters have been added. The app has also gained new slideshow options, automatic panorama stitching, video slide shows, and many other features.

Photoshop Lightroom CC can be downloaded now as part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography subscription service for $9.99 per month; a prepaid year of CC Photography access is normally $119.88, and currently on sale at B&H Photo Video for $99.88. Photoshop Lightroom 6 can be ordered for $149 as a standalone download. Adobe has also released version 1.4 updates to its mobile apps Lightroom for iPad and Lightroom for iPhone with support for Lightroom CC, improved cropping, and TIFF file support. Both iOS apps are now available for free from the App Store, but require Creative Cloud subscriptions.

Tumblr for iOS adds blog creation, trending tags widget, quick video embedding, more

Tumblr is out today with a brand new version of its blogging and community app for iPhone and iPad. Version 4 adds several new features like the ability to create new blogs from your iPhone or iPad and create video posts quickly by pasting YouTube or Vimeo URLs into a new post. The update adds a new widget for the Today section of Notification Center on iOS 8 for quickly seeing which tags are trending on Tumblr when you’re not using the app and much more. Read more

OS X Yosemite How-To: Move your iPhoto or Aperture library to Photos

Photos MacApple’s latest app Photos is now available for free as part of OS X 10.10.3 for Mac. The new app is the future of photo management from Apple with support for iCloud Photo Library, burst photos, slow-mo and time lapse videos, and more. Here’s how to migrate your photo library to the new Photos app from iPhoto or Aperture, both of which will no longer receive support for software updates going forward:

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First Apple Watch displays go live in retail stores in Australia, other countries (Photos)

While most are still waiting for the clock to strike April 10th, Apple Stores in the eastern part of the world have started opening their doors to Apple Watch appointments and potential buyers. Images posted to Twitter and Instagram show lines of customers waiting outside of stores to get their hands on the Apple Watch.

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Google’s free photo editing app Snapseed 2.0 gets lens blur, layers, new UI, more

snapseed2

Snapseed, the excellent free photo editing application, today received its first major update since Google purchased developer Nik Software back in 2012. Version 2.0 arrived in the App Store with a brand new user interface and a huge collection of new features, most notably including spot healing, lens blur effects, perspective transformation, and a non-destructive editing system that can copy edits from one image to another. The app remains universal across iOS devices, and now has a minimalist UI with Material Design influence.

While Apple’s Photos application improved considerably with the release of iOS 8, Snapseed’s unique ability to selectively fix small parts of photos — such as improving the brightness level of one dark face in an otherwise bright image — has kept it relevant as a key iOS photo editing tool for years. Snapseed 2.0 expands upon that feature, letting you apply filters and brushes selectively with a brush tool. You can also go into individual layers and make adjustments to changes that were previously applied during the editing process.

Snapseed 2.0 is available for free from the App Store now. Additional details are after the break…

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