I'm Christian Boyce, a Mac, iPhone, and iPad consultant.
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Use Preview to Mark Up Images

Apple's Preview program is a lot more capable than most people think. Besides being the best way to open PDFs, JPEGs, and PNGs, Preview has annotation tools that let you mark things up. For example, let's say you take a screenshot of a Google Maps picture, like so...

... and you want to mark it up, like so.

Turns out it's pretty easy. Here's how to do it. (Note: the screenshots are from Lion's Preview program but most of the instructions will work with Preview in Snow Leopard.)

Open a picture in Preview and then show the Annotation Tools. Look for a stylized pen icon in Preview's toolbar. Click that and a bunch of tools appear. (In Snow Leopard the tools are at the bottom of the window.) Click it again and the tools go away.

Here are the tools.

You can probably figure out what they do... from left to right you have shapes and lines, text boxes, colors, line weights, fonts, and a list view of all of the annotations you've made, in the order you made them.

If you click on the shapes and lines button you'll be ready to draw a shape. If you click the little triangle that is next to the shape you will get a little menu, like so:

The text box, colors, and line weights buttons have menus as well.

Pick a shape or a line, then click and drag to draw. The things you draw will have selection handles so you can adjust things after the fact. HOWEVER... as soon as you Save your document, the annotations become permanent, unless you're working on a PDF. In that case, you'll be able to edit the annotations after a Save. Thus, if you're not working with a PDF, it might make sense to make a copy of your picture before opening it in Preview to do annotations. Just in case.

I use Preview's annotation tools all the time here on the Blog, including in this very post (I drew an oval around the Show Annotation Tools button, and drew a box around the tools themselves). Other programs have more sophisticated tools but Preview's tools are often enough (and you already have the app). Give Preview's annotation tools a try. I think you'll find them very handy.

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Christian Boyce on the Digital Village radio show

I'll be on the Digital Village radio show at 10:30 this morning talking about the new iPad. In Los Angeles you can listen on your radio by tuning to 90.7 FM. If you're not in Los Angeles, or you'd rather listen through the internet, you can click here. If you missed the show you can get the replay on Digital Village's audio archives page.

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What's New in the iOS 5.1 Update

Apple released iOS 5.1 last week and if you're already on 5.0 or 5.0.1 this update will come to you automatically, through the air. You'll be asked whether or not you want it-- the answer should be "yes." Be sure your iPhone (or iPad or iPod) is connected to a charger, and on a WiFi network, and then go for it.

(If you haven't seen a message on your iPhone (or iPad or iPod touch) asking you about updating, do this: go to the Settings app, then General, then Software Update (near the top). If you're not on 5.1 yet you'll get the chance to update right there. You can also update by connecting your iPad to the Mac that you use for synching-- look for iTunes to launch and show you an "Update" button.)

Here's what you get when the update is finished. Actually, you'll get more than this, but this is the stuff that I find most interesting.

1. Photos can be deleted from your Photo Stream. In case you don't know, Photo Stream is one of the things you get with an iCloud account. Take a picture with your iPhone (or iPad, or iPod touch) and the picture goes up to iCloud and back down to your other devices, including your Apple TV and your Mac (assuming you're on 10.7 or higher). It's a neat feature but until iOS 5.1 you couldn't delete anything from the Photo Stream. You had to wait 30 days for the item to fall off the back end of the Stream. Not anymore. After updating to 5.1 you can view the Photo Stream on any of your devices and delete pictures from it. That's the good news. The bad news is, when you delete a picture from the Photo Stream, it is only deleted from the device you're working with. It doesn't get deleted on your other devices. That's a drag, because it's not what most of us wanted. We want to delete a picture from the Stream and have it disappear from all of our devices. Maybe in 5.2.

2. You can get to the Camera app from the lock screen a little bit more quickly
, thanks to a shortcut that's more obvious than before. When you wake up your device you'll see a camera icon at the bottom right (this used to show up only if you double-clicked the Home button of a locked iPhone or iPod touch). If you touch the camera icon it will slide up just a little, then fall back down. Do this enough times and you'll think it's broken, but it's not: what they're trying to do is give you the idea to shove the camera icon UP. Do that and you're right into the Camera app, no muss, no fuss. This only works on the iPhones (4S, 4, 3GS) and the iPod touch, so there's nothing here for iPad users. The red arrow shows you how.

3. Redesigned Camera app for the iPad.
They moved the shutter button to the right side, where it's easier to touch. A giant improvement.

4. Better battery life
. We'll see about that. They said the same thing about iOS 5.0.1.

5. Bug fix for a problem that caused the audio in phone calls to get garbled
after half an hour or so. I had this problem before the fix and haven't had it since so I think they nailed it. Thank you, Apple.

6. "Updated AT&T network indicator."
That's a quote from Apple's release notes for 5.1. What it means is, after the upgrade to 5.1, your iPhone 4S will show a "4G" at the top left where it used to show "3G." Did your iPhone suddenly get faster? No. It just means that AT&T thinks that their 3G network is nearly as good as a "real" 4G network, and with loopholes in the 4G specification, they are able to simply rebrand what used to be AT&T 3G. The International Telecommunications Union-Radiocommunications Sector (ITU-R) is the outfit in charge of specifying what 3G and 4G are, and they were a little imprecise about what a network has to be before it can be called 4G. They should have been more strict. Write your congressman.

7. Camera face detection now highlights all detected faces.
It draws a faint green box around all faces in the picture you're about to take, then focusses and sets exposure for the average of every face it finds. As far as I can tell the focus and exposure was happening before the 5.1 update so this is a cosmetic fix more than a functional one. Shown below: a screen shot of what it looks like when the face detection finds faces. I was taking a picture of a printed photograph which was a little out of focus. If I'd have been photographing people instead of a picture of people the iPhone would have been able to focus on their faces, not just draw green boxes around them.

You get all of that, and a little bit more, and it's free. Go get it.

Check out my other posts-- there are more than 400. Need more help? Email me. But first, join the mailing list. People on the mailing list go to the front of the line.

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The New iPad

Apple introduced the new iPad (and that's what they call it-- "the new iPad") a couple of days ago. It looks a lot like the previous model, the so-called "iPad 2." I think they could have called the new one "iPad 2.5" or something like that because of the many similarities. Basically, the new iPad is faster, has a better screen, has a better camera, has faster wireless networking, and can take dictation. With the exception of "can take dictation" these are simply upgrades, not anything really new. Yes, these upgrades make the iPad even better, but no, there wasn't anything wrong with the iPad 2. Here's Apple's page showing the new iPad's features. Try the Retina Display experiment.

The prices of "the new iPad" match the prices of the iPad 2 that it replaces: $499 for 16 GB with WiFi only at the low end, and $829 for 64 GB with WiFi and either AT&T or Verizon at the high end. You get more in the new iPad than you'd have gotten for the same money a few days ago.

Turns out the iPad 2 isn't going away. You can still get the base model, but now it's $399. Remember, two days ago this was the best thing ever invented, so don't feel as if you have to spend another $100 to get the new one.

Here's an excellent page by Apple, comparing the new iPad to the iPad 2. One surprise: the new iPad is a little bit thicker, and a little bit heavier, than the iPad 2. I think the thickness comes from the new and improved screen.

Here's another surprise: the new iPad does NOT have Siri, the terrific talk-to-it assistant that is part of the iPhone 4S. Dictation is nice, but that's not Siri. That's just dictation.

Of course the big question is, "should I buy one?" I think it depends. For most iPad 2 owners, there's probably no need to get the new iPad. For people who have an original iPad, I think this new iPad is better enough that it might be worth taking the plunge. People who don't have an iPad face an interesting choice: the iPad 2, now reduced to $399, or the new iPad for $499. (You can get a refurbished iPad 2 for $349-- here's a link to the refurbished section in the online Apple Store.)

While you're spending money think about buyingt the Apple TV. This little $99 box connects your TV to the internet and it adds incredible value to an iPad, because it allows you to show your iPad's screen on your TV, through the air, with almost no configuration. Pictures, movies, presentations, games-- all of it. Really cool, and it was updated this week. Here's a picture.

This version looks just like the previous one but it's better inside, and it can do 1080p video (the previous one did 720p). Definitely worth a look.

All in all the "big announcements" by Apple this week were a little bit underwhelming. They pushed the bar a little higher on the iPads, and on the Apple TV, but there was nothing wrong with the older versions. It's nice to see constant improvement but I expected more from a "special event." The new iPad and the new Apple TV are fabulous, and they're better than the things they replace, but I don't think these sorts of improvements merit a special event. On the other hand, Apple does seem to know what they're doing.

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Apple Event Predictions

As seemingly everyone knows, Apple has some announcements to make this morning. I don't have any inside information about what they'll have for us, but if you really want me to guess, here's what I wouldn't be surprised to see.
  • A new and improved iPad. Personally, I find the iPad 2 so fabulously useful that it is hard to find a lot of room for improvement. Yes, it's always possible to make a better screen, and yes a better camera would seem a natural step forward, but is that worth holding a special event over? I don't think so. I'm thinking there's something else. Be prepared to be surprised.
  • Some sort of TV-related thingy. Apple already has the Apple TV and it would be nice if it handled HD (it doesn't). Apple could improve the Apple TV by adding HD to it, but the quality of the images and video in the current Apple TV are more than good enough, and it's the fact that you can beam stuff from your iPhone and iPad to your TV-- through the air and with zero configuration-- that's the big deal. The quality is plenty good enough. Improving the quality to HD is hardly worth a special event, so once again I'm thinking there's something else.
Here are two ideas of mine that seem so obvious that I am sure Apple has already thought of them too. Now would be a good time to show them off:
  1. Siri on the iPad. Of course.
  2. An iPhone/iPad app to control your Apple TV. Another "of course" idea. This would include letting you touch channel-logo icons (or thumbnails of currently-playing shows) rather than looking at your channel-lineup cheat sheet and typing in a code as everyone does with their TVs today.
Even if you add in my two ideas you wouldn't have enough for a truly "special" event. I am guessing that Apple has a pretty big surprise for us, something that no one is writing about. We will soon find out!

I would not be surprised to see speed bumps across the entire line of iMacs and MacBook Pros, and also not surprised if Apple doesn't mention it.

Apple's presentation will not be streamed live but you can follow it online anyway. Try this link (http://www.maclife.com/article/news/live_blog_apple_ipad_3_event) for an up-to-the-minute play by play. The event starts at 10 AM PST.

Check out my other posts-- there are more than 400. Need more help? Email me. But first, join the mailing list. People on the mailing list go to the front of the line.

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