Editorial

iOS 7 wants: Just put the damn filters in Photos.app already

A while back I joked on Twitter that if Apple put filters and tilt shift into the built-in Photos app, I'd never use Instagram again. A lot of people maintain Instagram isn't about the filters or effects, but the community, but frankly there are already way too many communities for me to keep track of, and I'd just as soon make as many as possible as redundant as possible.

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Office no longer an iOS must-have, unless you're Microsoft

In the early days of the iPhone and later the iPad, pundits and consumers alike questioned how useful the devices could be without Microsoft's Office productivity suite. For many, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook are synonymous with business and getting things done. The iPhone launched over five years ago, and the iPad is coming up on three years, but in all that time they've yet to have an official Microsoft Office app suite, and with more than 100 million units sold each, sales have clearly suffered tremendously. Microsoft now wants to put Office on iPhones and iPads, but Apple's not in any mood to negotiate.

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Going big

In 2012 Apple increased the screen size of the iPhone from 3.5- to 4-inches, and introduced the iPad mini with a 7.9- rather than 9.7-inch screen. Between those devices, the old-but-still-on-the-market iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S and iPhone 5, and the iPad mini and iPad, there's a noticeable gap. No 4.5- to 5-inch phone. At least for now.

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iCloud and the problem with opaque sync

iCloud was meant to make data ubiquitous -- to magically handle syncing everything that really needs syncing between iOS and OS X devices, so users simply have the most up-to-date stuff, backed up and available, all the time and everywhere, without worrying. And it is. Except when it isn't. And when it isn't, it's almost as opaque to developers building against its APIs as it is to users wondering where their stuff is. So what to do?

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Editor's desk: Debugged, Ad hoc'ed, and inspired

It's Thanksgiving weekend in the south, below The Wall, and while I'm busy still waiting on my iPad mini + LTE to ship, getting my snow tires on, and writing a bunch of l our 2012 gift guides, I know many of you are still in turkey-fed, Black Friday-fueled fevers, so I'll keep it short-ish and simply pass along an update on our Mobile Nations podcasts, going into the new fall season.

The Wednesday iMore show is still on hiatus. I'm spending a couple of hours every Tuesday talking Apple news with Leo Laporte and the crew on MacBreak Weekly and repeating that on Wednesday nights just doesn't seem fresh and exciting. I really miss the live chatroom community, however, so we'll be doing something interesting to tie that back in, and sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile the Sunday iMore show will continue to be a mix of special guests and iMore regulars, and will continue to vary from product reviews to deep dives on industry-spanning issues. But we've also got some new shows like Debug and Ad hoc, and new series on shows like ZEN and TECH, and I can't wait for you to hear them.

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The future of Siri and Apple's services

It's been over a year now since Siri launched alongside the iPhone 4S in October of 2011. When I first saw Siri, it seemed to have enormous potential as: 1) A natural language interface that may one day do to multitouch and graphics was they did to the command line; 2) thanks to that interface, a way for Apple to intermediate and broker search away from Google and towards parter content; and 3) by virtue of that intermediation and brokerage, a gateway into customer insight analytics.

On the client side, I've enjoyed the type of results Siri delivers enough, both in terms of content and presentation, to wish Apple would: 1) hook it into Spotlight so I could still use it when talking would be impossible or inappropriate, or the natural language parser wasn't available; and 2) fix it so the natural language parser wasn't so frequently unavailable. (Purple-dot-purple-dot-purple-dot-nothing is the mouse only randomly getting food.)

Since then, Apple has brokered deals for sports, restaurant, and movie knowledge bases in Siri, including the ability to start table reservations and, soon, movie ticket purchases right from within the service. However, also since then, Google has launched their competing Google Now service. And Google knows services the way Apple knows hardware and software. It offers on-device voice parsing, Google's industry-leading backend infrastructure, and goes a step beyond Siri by attempting to predictively provide information and answer questions before you even ask them.

Now, Apple has started hiring people away from Amazon to help with the service and, in the wake of a management re-ogranization, Siri has been given to Apple's "fixer", senior vice-president Eddy Cue to help set, or reset, its course going forward.

Because Siri is only as useful as its weakest server and slowest response, and both those things are going to need some serious attention.

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No skin in the Game Center

Speaking of successes and failures, I dislike it when it feels like I care more about an app or service than the developer or platform owner. It sets off huge warning bells and sends me looking for alternatives. Apple is starting to give me that feeling with Game Center. Since Letterpress launched, a game that depends entirely on Apple's Game Center application programming interfaces (APIs) for everything from matchmaking to gameplay, Game Center reliability has taken a nose dive. For several hours this weekend, I once again had more Game Center errors than successful turns.

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The normalization of Apple

Absent Steve Jobs, and now absent Scott Forstall, we may have lost Apple's highest highs and the greatest greats. But we may also have lost the lowest lows and worst of the worsts that came with them. Instead of Star Wars under Lucas, we'll have Star Wars under Disney. Instead of Kubrick, we'll have Pixar.

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Tim Cook's Apple

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple from NeXT he famously found their product lines confounding. When Tim Cook inherited Apple, an argument could be made that Steve Jobs' greatest product, Apple itself, was confounding. Steve Jobs' solution, famously, was to draw a simple grid and in each of its four quadrants, laptop and pro laptop, desktop and pro desktop, placed a core product. Tim Cook just did the same thing, drawing up a simple grid, and in each of its four quadrants, design and technology, software and services, placed a core person -- Jony Ive and Bob Mansfield, Craig Federighi and Eddy Cue.

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The Nexus 4 doesn't have LTE because, unlike the iPhone 5, it's not a flagship phone, and was never intended to be

There's quite a bit of schadenfreude ricochetting through the Apple community (and grumbling in the Android camp) today after Google's latest phone, the Nexus 4, was announced without support for fast LTE 4G networking. That's because the iPhone 5 has support not only for LTE, but for international LTE, all wrapped up in an incredible thin, decently long-lifed package. And Android certainly is no stranger to LTE. If Apple can add it for its flagship phone, and many an Android manufacturer has LTE (like, all of them), why can't Google? It's actually more a matter of "won't," not "can't." Simply put, the Nexus 4 isn't, was never intended to be, and could never be a flagship phone.

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