Since I currently live in what can be considered “The City,” I haven’t had much need for a car in the past 6+ years. However, I still remember how extensive a trip to the gas station could be: pump gas, check the oil levels, squeegee the windshield, check tire pressure, buy snacks and whatever else the occasion called for. Now I can relive that experience any time I want, minus the snacks (*tear*), thanks to Treat Yourself Apps’ Panic At The Pump.
Panic At The Pump is a hectic, multitasking, time management game that tosses players into the roll of an over-worked gas station attendant. Cars file in one-by-one, each one with a laundry list of demands, and it’s up to the player to take care of it all. They have to be quick and efficient, however, because the clock is always ticking down. Soon it won’t be enough to simply fill the tank; they’ll have to pump gas while refilling oil and putting air in the tires.
Weirdos like me who sometimes miss the full automotive experience, or even just the curious, can check out Panic At The Pump in the App Store right now for free.
Recently, I was made aware of an app called AppSwitch, which would purportedly let you view advanced details like processes, memory and device information. Based on the people who were talking about it, my initial reaction was that this was an app only for jailbroken devices, and was disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to check it out as my phone is currently not jailbroken. Then, I looked into it a bit more, and found out that this was actually an app released on the App Store. Intrigued by the premise and concerned that this might only be available while Apple doens’t realize what they have seemingly inaverdently approved, like the HandyLight app that secretly had tethering, I jumped on this right away. However, what I found was interesting: this may actually be a legitimate app consciously approved by Apple.
AppSwitch comes with several features accessible from the app’s tab bar at the bottom of the screen. Processes lets you view which processes are currently running on your device, as well as some basic information on them, including which apps are currently using multitasking on your device for those with iOS4 multitasking devices. From this menu, you cannot kill any of these processes, but you can switch to supported apps from this menu if they have a URL scheme registered with the device. As well, some apps that support advanced commands with their URL scheme and are recognized by AppSwitch can be used to switch to certain points in the app, like Twitter for iPhone allowing you to open up directly to mentions or to populate a tweet in the tweet field when you open up the app. The System tab lets you see your device model, OS, and UDID; view your IP and MAC addresses, including for your cellular connection; view your load averarge and uptime; and finally, view your device’s free storage space out of its current total. Developers and journalists will appreciate that you can easily send all this info in an email, or just copy their MAC address and UDID to the clipboard.
The Memory tab lets you view the portions of your RAM that are currently Wired, Active, Inactive, and Free, but without being able to alter these values in any way. Finally, the Console tab lets you see what processes are doing and changing on your system, and search the list for what specific processes are doing. This information is largely incomprehensible to end users, and is view-only. Finally, the Settings tab lets you view the app’s manual, change settings, and install app packs that will include icons and specific information for processes, including more commands for switching to specific elements of apps.
While this feels off the bat like this is a case of the App Store submission crew falling asleep on the job, there are reasons to believe that this app actually was consciously approved for release by Apple. Everything the app does is non-destructive; while you have the ability to view all kinds of processes and other information about running apps, and can do things like switch to apps with specific parameters, you can’t actually kill those apps or processes, or damage your device in anyway. The app switching only uses an app’s URL registration protocols to switch, much like how Boxcar works to open up other apps when you get a notification. Information like MAC addresses, IP addresses, and device UDIDs are all information that is easily viewable by the user in other methods, it’s just easily viewed on one screen or copied to the clipboard in this app.
Memory usage information has been seen in other apps currently on the App Store, and it too is non-destructive, it just lets you view the RAM information. The Console of process information, while supremely in-depth and allowing you to see what specifically your device is doing in a way few if any other apps have let you view, is also non-destructive; you can’t start or stop any new processes from here, you can just see what’s going on in specific detail. Other apps like the memory freeing apps were destructive in the way that they killed processes, and that is why they were rejected or eventually pulled by Apple.
Given that AppSwitch does not seem to violate any rules, and just provides an in-depth view at your device and what it’s doing, AppSwitch appears to be in the clear with Apple, and available on the App Store for $0.99…but perhaps only while it lasts.
The long wait is finally over as Apple has officially announced that iOS 4.2 will be available for the iPod, iPhone and iPad today at 10am PST, 1pm EST. The new update brings features such as folders, multitasking and a unified inbox to the iPad, as well as AirPlay and AirPrint to all devices. For a full rundown of all the new features make sure to check out the tutorials we posted last week.
Specifically in relation to the iPad, Apple head honcho Steve Jobs said “iOS 4.2 makes the iPad a completely new product, just in time for the holiday season. Once again, the iPad with iOS 4.2 will define the target that other tablets will aspire to, but very few, if any, will ever be able to hit.”
One of the less publicized but still incredibly important features is the fact that Apple is extending the Find My Phone service to all users for free. The feature, which allows users to track down lost iOS devices remotely, was previously restricted to MobileMe subscribers. The feature is great for those afraid of losing their device and having sensitive data exposed to the world, as Find My Phone allows you to locate your device on a map, lock it remotely and even wipe data if it’s been compromised. Granted, most of us don’t really need such a service, but it still makes our lives feel just a little more like a James Bond film, and that’s always awesome.
At any rate, we’re mere hours away from Apple’s next big major operating system update! How excited are you? Are you planning a party to have all your friends come over and you’ll all eat snacks and download the update together? We’ll bring the dip, but if Susan makes that awful casserole again we’re totally leaving right away and will just keep running 4.1 until we get home.
Though most of us poor schmucks continue to wait around for Apple to release iOS 4.2 there are some media types who have had access to the update for a while now and have spent some quality time with the new tech. Thankfully, our friends over at TiPb have gone ahead and created a couple of videos to walk us through the new features that 4.2 will bring to the iPad and iPhone.
The iPad video goes in depth on a lot of new features, including AirPlay integration and multitasking. We’re also happy that TiPb dove into the back-end a bit, showing off the new settings and other under the hood changes you might not have noticed had they not been featured in the video. Of course the iPad is also getting a few enhancements that have been on the iPhone for a while now, including Game Center and organizing apps into folders. While Apple’s folder system isn’t the most elegant solution in the world, it’s still very space-saving and helpful to those who thrive on organizing their life.
The iPhone video is a bit shorter as iOS 4.2 is not quite as weighty of a change for Apple’s smaller device. Some major inclusions are the introduction of MobileMe, as well as how to get to the volume and AirPlay controls via swiping the multitasking dock. There’s also mention of AirPrint, though it is rumored this feature may be dropped or altered before iOS 4.2 actually launches. There are also a number of other small changes and improvements you may not have known about before.
So feel free to point your peepers at the video for your relevant iOS device(s) and prepare to amaze your friends when you’re navigating the new system like a pro on launch day while they’re still trying to figure out how to adjust screen brightness. For at least a brief time you can feel completely confident in the fact that you are better than them.
The 4.2 update for iOS devices is rumored to be launching this week, and perhaps no machine is getting more fun new features than the iPad. While many of the additions merely bring the iPad in line with capabilities already possessed by the iPhone and iPod Touch, no one seems to be complaining. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s coming in the update.
AirPlay – Owners will now be able to stream their pictures, videos and music directly from their iPad to their Apple TVs and AirPort Express, as well as to other AirPlay-compatible devices from third-party vendors.
AirPrint: With AirPrint you’ll now be able to wirelessly print from your iPad by allowing iOS 4.2 devices to discover printers on the local network. The only catch is you seem to need the newest version of Snow Leopard to make it work.
Multitasking: Possibly the biggest new feature in iOS 4.2 is multitasking. Just like on the iPhone and iPod touch, a double click on the home button brings up a bar at the bottom of the screen with the last six apps opened. This allows users to switch between apps without having to go to the home screen first.
Folders: iPad users can now finally organize their apps into folders, with up to 20 apps in each folder.
Game Center: Now you can track Achievements and friends on any iOS device and brag about your amazing score regardless of what mobile device you’re carrying. The app is pretty much the same as what’s already available on other iOS machines.
Also just like on the iPhone, swiping to the right on the multitasking panel brings up screen brightness and volume. Apple turned the orientation toggle on the top right of the device into a mute switch, so this area of the multitasking bar now lets you lock your iPad into the desired orientation.
Safari: The ‘+’ button for bookmarking sites is gone and has been replaced with a share button that includes the bookmarking functionality, but also allows you to compose an email with a link to the current page and to print the page with the help of AirPrint. The tab button now also shows how many open tabs you currently have.
Also new is the ability to search for text inside a page. The search feature in Safari now doesn’t just display search suggestions but also tells you how often your search terms appear on the page you are currently looking at. After clicking on one of these results, a new bar appears at the bottom of the browser screen that allows you to jump to all the instances of this keyword and also to refine your search.
Unified Email Inbox: See all your email in one inbox, even if you sync multiple email accounts with your iPad. Gmail accounts can also archive messages rather than deleting them, but if you do want to delete a message it requires going through a couple extra menu screens in order to do so.
So plenty of new toys available for iPad users to check out, now we just have to wait for Apple to throw the switch and make the update live. Once 4.2 is in the wild we will be sure and let you know so you can download it immediately.
While Pandora got the top billing when Apple demoed iOS 4 multitasking, other music services are also updating their apps to support background play.
Multitasking in iOS 4 allows compatible apps to run in the background while another app runs in the foreground. Apps in the background can continue to perform tasks such as play music streams.
Slacker Inc has announced that its personal radio application, Slacker Radio, has been updated to support multitasking and is available now for free on the App Store. The currently Europe-only Spotify is also headed for background-centric adjustment with the company announcing on its blog that an update has been submitted to Apple. The blog post goes on to suggest that a “surprise” will also be included in the update to thank users for their patience.
As well as music streaming, GPS navigation apps and social networking clients are also popular background enabled apps. Expect to see many more updates of this type in the coming days.
Joining the swathe of apps updated for iPhone 4, Phantom Fish has enhanced its Byline newsreader app to make use of the iPhone 4’s Retina display. The app also takes advantage of multitasking in iOS4.
Byline takes news from sites listed in your Google Reader account and makes them available on your iPhone using their RSS feeds. The app allows users to view pages without an internet connection with its offline browsing feature and syncs with your Google Reader account so that your news is always up-to-date. The app is also compatible with Twitter, Instapaper and Read It Later.
Version 3.2 is available now on the App Store and brings high-resolution graphics for optimum viewing on the iPhone 4’s Retina Display and uses multitasking to complete syncing and caching of feeds in the background.
Byline is available for free with advertising or at $4.99 for the advertising-free version.
With the launch of iOS4 (the new name for the iPhone’s latest operating system), Navigon is promoting how its GPS software will make use of the iPhone’s new multitasking features that allow apps to run in the background.
The video below sees Navigon’s head of iNavigation (great job title!), Bernd Hahn, showing how the MobileNavigator app doesn’t need to be quit when receiving a call or using other iPhone features and apps.
Navigon’s offering is one of many apps that will be making use of the new multitasking feature in iOS4 that is set to include music apps like Pandora among others.