iOS

Astropad brings the Cintiq experience to your iPad

The iPad's made great progress in the sketching world, but it's still been hampered by imprecise screen mapping and styluses that can't perfectly replicate pressure. The solution from Astro HQ's Astropad is to map the iPad to a different screen entirely — that of your Mac.

Astropad does for creative pros what Duet Display did for second-screen enthusiasts: Not only does it provide a high-quality, high-framerate mirrored display on your iPad that you can draw on, but Astropad goes a step further and integrates with three of the iPad's top-selling pressure-sensitive styluses to offer you full pressure support in your Mac app of choice.

It may not be a true Wacom Cintiq experience, but it sure comes close to fooling me.

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Comic: The Applemobile lost a wheel and Google got away

Ed: Welcome to this week's edition of The Pixel Project: a weekly comic from Diesel Sweeties' Rich Stevens on Apple, technology, and everything in-between. Today: The rumored Apple Car.

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How would you change Apple's Photos app?

Photos was one of the apps that not only drove people to buy the original iPhone, but helped them show off why they bought it. Yes, Mike Matas and team had us at pinch-to-zoom. Over the years, Apple introduced video, integrated with additional services like Flickr, and added basic editing tools and filters. The biggest improvements, however, came with iOS 7 — and a whole new Photos app. It offered all an all-new organizational model, based on Years, Collections, and Moments, much better, non-destructive editing tools, and integration with iCloud Photo Library, which promised better storage and sync for all photos and videos. In other words, along with Photos for Mac, Apple has made it a core part of their operating systems.

But that was then and this is now. So, what would you like to see Apple do with Photos next?

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Siri 'crushing' competitors at language accuracy

Siri, Apple's virtual personal assistant, has been improving steadily since its introducing in 2011. Streaming text to speech is one of the most recent and obvious areas of improvement, but Siri has also been adding new features and better language support. In a recent test that spanned languages, Siri scored a remarkable 76% for accuracy. That's compared to 46% for Google Now and 42% for Microsoft Cortana.

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A salute to iOS gamers, or how to stop intimidating your non-gamer friends

Ed: Welcome to iMore's author spotlight column, The Network. Every Friday, we'll be bringing you the perspective and charm of the best and brightest minds in the Apple and tech community. This week: Games journalist and podcaster Maddy Myers.

While walking home the other day with a well-read friend of mine who doesn't identify as a "gamer" — but has an Angry Birds history on his iPhone that would argue otherwise — I brought up BioShock: Infinite. I had assumed, given my friend's interest in activism and politics, that he'd be interested in hearing about the game's attempts at social critique, however ham-fisted. We never got that far.

"What do you mean, it has a sad ending?" he interrupted. "Do you mean you lost?"

"No, no – I beat it," I said. "Everybody gets the same ending."

"That's impossible!" he sputtered. "You should try it again, just in case!"

I walked in a lot of conversational circles as I explained that actually the game was meant to be a very serious narrative experience, and that many games of this type often only give you one ending. Call of Duty games only have one ending, I told him, and everybody sees the same cut-scenes. Same goes for The Last Of Us, and all the Halo games ...

"But when I play Tetris, it's different every time," he said. "If everybody gets the same ending, how is that even a game? Maybe you're supposed to look up a cheat code? I mean... I don't know, I'm not a gamer."

It's hard to say which of us is a really a "gamer" when neither of us would agree on what is or isn't a "game," though, right?

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Ten ways to pester and delight your friends on iMessage

Last week, Ally somewhat accidentally discovered that if you change an iMessage's group name on your computer, it changes the name for everyone on the thread. It not only led to some pretty hilarious griefing for our other co-workers, but got me thinking about other ridiculous tricks and trolls for making iMessage conversations a little more — shall we say — interesting. So here are ten ridiculous games, tricks, and other nonsense to keep you and your friends laughing throughout the day.

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Swift 1.2 features an improved compiler and Objective-C interactions

Apple's youngest programming language, Swift, received a fairly substantial update with today's first beta of Xcode 6.3, at least in beta form. The Swift 1.2 beta features an improved compiler that's both more stable and more speedy, as well as new Objective-C (the programming language that pre-Swift iOS apps were built on) interactions for building more capable hybrid apps.

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First iOS 8.3 beta seeded to developers before iOS 8.2 is even released

Apple today seeded to developers the very first iOS 8.3 beta, as well as a beta for Xcode 6.3 with the version 1.2 of the Swift programming language. Amusingly, this first release of the iOS 8.3 beta comes just a week after the fifth 8.2 beta — a version of the OS that has yet to see public release.

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iOS 9 likely to feature substantial stability improvements

The launch of iOS 8 hasn't been without its hiccups, and it seems that Apple is putting a lot of work into ensuring that its successor — we'll call it iOS 9 (seems like a safe bet) — irons out those kinks. iOS 8 adoption has lagged behind previous major version numbers of iOS, though it's worth noting that it is still doing quite well in comparison to the competition.

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U.S. iPhone sales top Android for the first time in two years

The latest report from research firm Kantar World Panel claims that sales of iPhones jumped ahead of Android devices in the US for the final quarter of 2014. Apple claimed 47.7% of the smartphone market, barely beating Android's 47.6% share. It's the first time that iOS has been ahead of Android in the US since the fourth quarter of 2012.

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