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Entries in iTunes (7)


rewind 2012: apps & technology

As I continue to rewind 2012, today I discuss my favorite apps and general technology geek talk. 
Top 5 Apps
1.  Clear
I love this app!  I use it on my iPhone and my Mac.  It's a very simple interface and friendly to use.  Nothing special, just real easy to do list making.  I really really love it and mostly love the simplicity.  No project managing, etc.  Just a real clear make a list and cross it off.  It's really changed the way I grocery shop and plot out my day.  Each day I learn how to make things a little simpler.  
2.  Scramble with Friends
So addictive!  This game was started on a whim, since I loved Words with Friends and I just wanted to keep playing some of my friends in these types of word games and this one stuck!  It's super fun and kind of a mix of cross word puzzles and word building.   I like that it's fast.   Each game is only 2 minutes per round and you can play a game while you're waiting for something to microwave or anything.  Brilliant and fun!
3.  Song Pop
 Basically, this game is Name that Tune.  Since I love music, this game fits a niche that not everyone loves, but I do.   I love guessing which song is which and can't believe it when I miss something.  It's very addictive and I found myself playing strangers anyone, just so I can play.   I've started to kind of taper off a little, but it's still very fun and highly addictive to play.  
4.  Angry Birds Star Wars
 I have loved Angry Birds for awhile, but I hadn't played in forever.  I must say when I saw the Star Wars themed version I had to check it out.  It's great.  It borrows from the standard angry birds game and from the space version, but it's all done with a Star Wars theme and I just can't get enough of it.  I started playing it in November and it's renewed my interest in all my Angry Birds games.   Those Rovio guys are genius and they even are planning on making a movie.  We'll see if they can build a real cross platform franchise or if this birds/pigs fizzle out next year.  
5.  Passbook
 This isn't so much an app as it is a feature within iOS6 for iPhone and iPad.  I think it needs to mature a lot, but I was really interested in exploring it.  Starbucks has a very seamless integration and it's so simple and easy and transformed how I get my Starbucks coffee.  It will pop up a notification on my Phone when I enter one of my normal Starbucks locations and give me access to my gift card/payment card without having to launch the seperate app.   Again, simple and I can see how this could evolve into a digital wallet type app.  I'd love to be able to use this for all my loyalty cards for stores which I hate carrying around so much.  I can also see it for credit cards.   I guess we'll see how it evolves over the next year, but so far it's intriguing and it's something I really want to use.  
Now that you know my favorite apps to use, here's some general tech talk.  As always, 2012 ushered in some cool new toys.  iCloud officially launched by Apple and MobileMe went away.  I am really enjoying iCloud and again it's the simplicity that I love the most.   I think I miss the website ease with MobileMe and I definitely miss the galleries.  But I'm using squarespace now for my site which is much much nicer and I'm looking into other ways with picture galleries, since I think the squarespace galleries lack a little something for ease of use.  iCloud just works and good to know my information is backed up in Apple's cloud (huge data center in North Carolina and maybe more soon).  The nicest part is the backups just happen when you are plugged into power and wifi is nearby.  Genius!  The bad part is that it's not backing up everything on my hard drive.  I like that I can delete stuff from my own hard drive and then just grab it back from iCloud especially the iTunes purchases.   This is extremely helpful.  I like it so much, I'm considering a service like Carbonite to backup the rest of my stuff on my Mac.  I've been holding off on using iTunes Match too, but I think I may give it a try since I keep hearing good things about it.  It was a rocky beginning so I held off.   
The tech patents are getting insane.  You need to look no further than the many many patent lawsuits that you see everyday.   TiVo is using them to keep themselves alive.  They have a great service and I wish them continued success, but they need to sell themselves to Apple and integrate with Apple TV.   They will die at some point due to a lack of innovation and how much it costs to get into their product versus a standard cable dvr.  They are way better than a cable DVR, but I must admit that I haven't upgraded my TiVo in like 4 years now and it needs it, but I wonder why I should bother.  I'm just recording less and watching online more.  I lvoe TiVo, but I wonder if it's a product whose time has come and gone.   Hmmm.....The patent lawsuits reached an all time crazy with Apple vs Samsung.  I'm glad that Apple won their victory, but then Samsung won something too.   I mean, some of the stuff these companies are claiming a patent on, just don't seem like things that you should be able to patent.  Crazy, and then lawsuits in multiple countries too?  Too much.  I think the patent system needs to re-evaluated in this new age of technology.  
Facebook did another redesign and introduced timeline.  They keep changing to keep it fresh, but they will have a hard time doing that I think as they evolve since they are so super huge.  They just bought instagram toward the end of the year too.   Who knows how long Facebook will survive, most of these type of companies fall out of favor after a few years, but Facebook and Twitter look to be going strong.  I will say I've tried Google+ several times and I really liked it, but couldn't get into using it.  There is something lacking there from a user experience and Facebook and Twitter are just simpler and more integrated and more of my friends use them.   Oh well.  GetGlue I am also still using for checking into movies and TV.  Now I'm also on Good Reads for books and FourSquare for locations.   Lord help me.  These social networks are just everywhere.  I feel like at some point, we'll all went to be a little less social, right?
Apple came out with all kinds of cool gadgets this year.  2 rounds of new iPads, new iPhone with a big redesign, new iPods with a big redesign, new iMacs, new Macbooks.  Thunderbolt and Lightning cables now replacing all of our other standard 32 pin iPhone/iPod/iPad cables.  Whew!   I didn't buy any of those new gadgets this year, but I finally got an Apple TV.  I LOVE IT!!!  It is a big change in my habits and I get much better playback of Netflix on that device.  It's so impressvely tiny too.   Not in the way at all.  I also like getting lots of my media from my Mac to my TV/Stereo.   I really really like it.  I subscribed to Hulu Plus only because I could get it on my TV through Apple TV.   I would never use this service if I could only use it online.  It's the way I consume a great deal of television now.   I still prefer to watch my TV on TV and not through my computer.   Although I do watch on my iPad occasionally.   I find it a complimentary service to my Netflix subscription and not a replacement.  It has more current shows than Netflix.  It also has commercials, but I don't find them very intrusive.  It still lacks a great deal of content, especially HBO and bothersome when whole sections of Saturday Night Live aren't able to be streamed, but the content they do have on there I like to consume.  I should probably do a whole post at some point this year on what I like about Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus.   I need to also do a whole post on the Apple TV and what I'd love to see done with that.  There has been many rumors going around about what Apple wants to do in the TV space, so I guess getting my thoughts out there would make me feel better before anything actually happens.  I also need to do a whole post on digital downloads for movies and tv shows.   I've done a lot more of that this year through iTunes and have lots of digital movies in my collection.   I generally like the idea but have lots of issues with it.   I still have a bunch of blu-rays too.  iTunes major redesign finally came through in December too.  I've heard mixed reviews, but I generally like it.  Still getting used to it somewhat though.   
In general, it was another fun year in techy stuff.  Maybe a new iPad for me in 2013?  mini or standard?  let's see what next year brings.  this is the year that I would get a new iPhone too.  


American Idol iTunes Night Top 9

In a strategic partnership, Fox, American Idol and Apple/iTunes have banded together again this year to offer downloads of songs from each night of American Idol performances. This year, they've upped it by mentioning iTunes a ton during each broadcast. Tonight, they talked about it so much, I'm curious how much each partner is getting paid. Regardless, tonight's lame attempt at a theme night was iTunes night. As long as you could download the song on iTunes, you could sing it. Weird, but good excuse to have a night when the contestants could sing absolutely anything. Here's my review of the performances tonight.

Anoop - I liked his performance of "Caught Up". It wasn't the best of the night, but it was a good solid performance. I think he deserves another week to see what he can do. I was glad to see him do something upbeat this week too.
Megan - This was just bad. She did Bob Marley. Not good at all. I think she's going home this week.
Danny - This was his best performance yet. Heartfelt, emotional and real. I loved it. He did Rascal Flatts and I think I will buy that song on iTunes. Hey it's working Fox and Apple.
Allison - I thought she sounded good and I even liked her quirky outfit. She sang "Don't Speak" by No Doubt. It wasn't her best I don't think, but I thought she did good.
Scott - I hate to keep picking on Scott, but c'mon he doesn't sound contemporary. Taylor Hicks sounded more contemporary than he does. He did Billy Joel tonight. I thought it was a good performance, but I just can't help thinking that he's out of his depth. How did Alexis leave and Scott & Megan are still performing? He might make it another week, but just because Megan was sooo bad.
Matt G - I love this guy. But he may need help picking songs. Whenever he can pick whatever he wants, he picks the totally wrong song. Is there anything wrong with The Fray? No. He did good, but he didn't show us a heartfelt deep in my gut Matt G performance. I thought Apologize by One Republic, Cry Me A River by Timberlake or even an updated version of a soulful Careless Whisper or Father Figure would've been much better choices for Matt G. Email me Matt, I've got some ideas for you, because you are too good to go home yet.
Lil Rounds - She sounded great. Don't get me wrong. I love Lil. Here's my problem with Lil. She is trying too hard. She suffers from what Matt G suffers from. They are cracking under the pressure and picking songs that don't suit them. Celine Dion? She tried to sound like Celine. Not a good choice for me. Why isn't this girl doing Mary J Blige, Lauren Hill, Mariah Carey or at least early Janet Jackson? She can do it. I think Lil needs a producer and she'll do fine. She just might not last in the competition.
Adam - I don't like Adam. I'm not gonna lie. But I think for the 2nd consecutive week, he's pulled off fantastic performances. Last week was much better. But he still made Play that Funky Music sound current and that's pretty good.
Kris - Tonight he had a moment. Very shocked and surprised by his stunning heartfelt raw performance tonight. Ain't No Sunshine. Definitely downloading that track.

Finally, was Paula reading from a music dictionary tonight? I think she was trying hard to sound like she knows what she's talking about. I love Paula, but quit talking so much. I really like Kara too, but she is starting to talk way too much too. Simon should be the only judge that is allowed to go on and on, because I respect his opinions so much. Randy is good, but he's usually to the point mostly. These ladies are just talking way too much and not saying that much. I love you girls, but keep it a little shorter if you can. At least give it a try. What can it hurt?

Let's see what tomorrow brings.


Apple's Let's Rock Event

Apple had their Let's Rock Event yesterday. While most of the late predictions came true, there were some surprises. I'm excited about the new Nanos since I was thinking of getting a new one soon anyway. My headphone jack is kind of worn out and now I don't hear clean music through my nano anymore. I'm also excited to use the new iTunes 8. I'm just starting to play with it now since I downloaded it last night. OK, well here's a ton more info if you're interested.

Watch the whole event in quicktime
Check out the apple store


Free music this week on iTunes

Right now on iTunes, you can get free downloads of a new Paul McCartney song and a new Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band single. Get it while it's still free. Pretty big artists giving away free songs. I downloaded. The Springsteen tune is really good.


iPhone - I got 1!

I got an iPhone! Here's how it went down.

June 29th came and went. Apple released their iPhone to much fanfare. I have to admit that I was salivating at the idea of this new gadget. I love new gadgets and this one seemed to be one that did everything that I've been wishing for. A Video iPod, a cell phone, pda style functions, email, web surfing, etc. I was traveling around a lot in the end of June and beginning of July and missed waiting in line on day 1. To be honest though, I didn't think that I would get one right away. I mean $600 for a phone is pretty steep. But I knew I wanted one.

I went to the Apple store and watched as others took a look at these fancy new gadgets. The lines were so long, I didn't think it would ever be possible for me to get one. Plus, that price was holding me back.

My friend Mike got one and I took a look at his. It was utterly amazing. I held it in my hand and instantly knew that I had to have one. I went to the nearest AT&T store and they were taking forever to get to me, so I left. I ran some more errands and decided if I wanted to get one of these amazing machines I had to buy it from Apple. I went home and checked the website. It was a 1 - 2 week wait. I couldn't wait I told myself. I purposely hadn't upgraded my Sprint phone that I should've upgraded in January, because I was waiting to just look at the iPhone. I went to my nearest Apple store and thought let's just ask them if they have them. They did. I was shocked. What should I do now? I thought about it for like 1/4 second before I plunked down my credit card to charge $600 for the 8GB iPhone.

I haven't been disappointed. It's the coolest phone I've ever had and in my opinion, it's more like a mini computer than a phone. I use it to surf the web from anywhere. It looks great. I prefer to search the web from Wi-Fi but I can search over AT&T's EDGE network. I use it to easily check weather from the widget in the phone. The iPod functionality is killer. I just love it! I think it's one of the greatest gadgets I've ever owned. I think it even surpasses my euphoria that I had when I got my first iPod. Now, I'll be pissed if I drop it and it breaks, but this is such a cool space age kind of gadget, that I'm blown away. I can't believe that I have one. I think everyone should go and get one. Surprising since it's the first generation of this product, but it's that cool.

I'm so proud of it and excited by this gadget that I'm inspired. How often does that happen? I'm sure that you'll be hearing more about my iPhone in the future, but here's a little slideshow of me opening and activating my iPhone.

Also, if you're lucky enough to have one of these amazing gadgets, here's some video tips on CNET to check out.