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Archive for December, 2010
Enterprising developer Erica Sadun of TUAW fame has been reverse engineering Apple’s Airplay technology lately, and now she’s following up her successful Airplayer software for the Mac with AirFlick, a simple piece of Mac OS X software that streams any video or audio file to your second-generation Apple TV — no iTunes required.
If you have been disappointed by how Apple has limited Airplay to their own iOS apps, you’re not alone. That’s why we’ve got to give mad props to Erica Sadun, a TUAW blogger and app developer who has been locked away tinkering with Airplay lately and found a way to extend some of its limited capability.
Sadun’s first effort was Airplayer, which allowed compatible iOS apps (including Videos on the iPad and the iPod app on iPhone/iPod touch, or YouTube on all three) to stream video to the Mac, thanks to a small OS X application she created.
Now Sadun is back with AirFlick, which streams most any video or audio file from your Mac to the second-generation Apple TV, no jailbreaking required. It also doesn’t require iTunes — drag and drop a media file onto the AirFlick application and away you go. Here’s how it works.
1. First you’ll need to download AirFlick, a modest ad-supported 1MB alpha application that Sadun is offering free on her website for the rest of us to play with. The current version is 0.04 as of this writing.
2. Unzip the archive and drag the AirFlick program to your system’s Applications folder.
3. Double-click AirFlick to launch it. The app will immediately start seeking out any compatible devices to stream to, which includes other Macs running Airplayer as well as the second-generation black Apple TV. When it’s ready, you’ll see ‘Searching’ change to the name of the first device found.
4. Select the device you want to receive your media from the choices listed; if you have only one, it will select it by default and you should see the name pop up like in the screenshot above.
5. Drag a video or audio file from anywhere (or type in a file path) and click the large Play button in the bottom right corner. Your media should start streaming to your selected device, although as you can see from Sadun’s how-to video, sometimes it doesn’t work on the first try. However, clicking the Menu button on your ATV remote and giving it another go will usually get things working as they should.
6. At this point, you can sit back and enjoy or click the Stop button if you’re finished.
AirFlick isn’t limited to just Apple TV-compatible files, either — if you have a newer version of the free, open-source VLC installed, AirFlick will use it to transcode your video into something that the ATV can play. The only caveat is there will be a 30-second delay before the video starts to play, during which Sadun slyly notes is a good time to ‘Get a cup of coffee.’
Keep in mind that this is early alpha software and bugs can be expected — we experienced one for ourselves while testing for this article after opening Airplayer on a secondary Mac and trying to refresh the available sources. Quitting the app and launching it again cleared things right up, and the problem didn’t occur a second time.
AirFlick and Airplayer show that there’s still a lot of untapped promise in Apple’s wireless Airplay technology, and thanks to developers like Erica Sadun, the best is likely yet to come.
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter
(Via Mac|Life all.)
Makers of the coolest guitar and bass tuner on the planet TC Electronic have just updated their equally awesome iPhone app to version 1.1.0 making the app fully compatible with iPhone 4 as well as iOS4. It features full Retina display support for ultimate viewing experience when tuning.
A brand new Color Blind feature has been included, allowing users to switch out the green/red colors with yellow/blue. Finally, the overall graphics has been improved, and the app now has a new, very appealing icon that will stand out on any iPhone home screen.
Obviously, v. 1.1.0 is a free update for existing PolyTune app users, but to celebrate this new version, TC Electronic will be lowering the price for new users to just $0.99 for 3 days, from December 16, 2010, to midnight December 19, 2010. Normally, the PolyTune app is priced at $9.99, but after the three-day special offer, the regular price will be dropped by 50% to $4.99.
To download the app click on this link or search for PolyTune in the app store.
(Via Guitar Noize.)
Cloud computing is all the rage these days. Google’s ‘everything’s a web app’ outlook has finally taken a hold over the Chrome browser this week with the release of the much-anticipated Chrome Web Store (see our news story by Steve on it).
Comparable to Apple’s App Store and Google’s own Android Marketplace, the Chrome Web Store allows you to install and run Chrome-specific applications within tabs. If you want to try it out for yourself, you’re going to need the latest version of the recently updated Chrome browser for Windows, Linux or Mac.
Web Apps Explained
We love internet-based applications here at MakeUseOf. If you’re an avid reader you’ll probably notice we produce a couple of articles related to these per week, and for good reason. Services like Google Docs and Microsoft Web Apps are web applications that provide functionality on a par with locally installed software. Thanks to browser advancements, these applications are becoming more powerful, varied and genuinely useful.
The Chrome Web Store installs web apps that are specific to the Chrome browser. This doesn’t mean that Chrome is the only browser to support web apps, as I’m sure you’re aware. Google Docs and other similar services function just as well on other browsers.
One advantages of using Chrome is the ability to create shortcuts to these web apps, so they will function and appear much like software you have to install. If you discover an app that you like at any point, simply launch it, click Chrome’s options button, Tools and then Create Application Shortcuts.
The store itself not only allows you to download fabled web apps, but also Chrome Extensions and Themes for the browser. Developers are also able to charge a fee, so don’t be surprised to learn that it’s not all free.
Web apps are separated into 9 different categories, and there is already a decent selection populating each category with plenty of free apps to get you started.
Interestingly if you do decide to download a paid app then you have 30 minutes after purchase to cancel your payment. You can do this once per app, and it offers a nice ‘try before you buy’ element to the store.
Chrome’s ability to synchronize bookmarks to your Google Account has also received an update. Settings, extensions, themes and web apps can now all be kept up to date with your account. This means you can then log in from a different Chrome browser on any platform (Chrome OS included) to see your own familiar setup.
Installing and Removing
Once you’ve found an app, extension or theme that takes your fancy (like the totally awesome TweetDeck, for example) you’ll be able to install it quickly via the Install button on the item’s page. New applications that have been installed can then be launched from any new tab (Ctrl+T).
On the same page you will find some information about what you are installing, including version number, date of the latest update and what (if any) services or local data the application or extension accesses.
Any paid apps that you happen to purchase are handled via Google Checkout, and as previously mentioned have a 30-minute ‘cooling off’ period in case you’re not happy.
To remove an app simply open a new tab and right click the app you wish to remove. Choose Uninstall and it’s gone. You may also have noticed that on this menu you can choose to open web apps as regular tabs, pinned tabs or even full screen.
The Chrome Web Store is an exciting addition to Google’s cloud movement, and a great way to boost productivity online. There’s a decent selection of applications available already, and this number is only set to grow.
If you’re wondering which apps are worth checking out, then keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming article. If you’ve found any web apps that you already can’t live without then why not tell us all about it in the comments.
If it’s an iconic piece of hardware or software, there’s at least a decent chance you could be seeing it in virtual iPad form soon.
Tascam’s Portastudio, released today, is a particularly striking example. The famed, budget cassette multitrack recorder, the box on which countless demos and quick songwriter creations was forged, appears on Apple’s tablet. There’s even a fake cassette tape, which I have to say is a little bit unnerving.
This is all nostalgia, right? Well, no, actually: those big, simplified plastic controls and memorable layout work because they’re so easy to use. The problem with a lot of software design of the past couple of decades is that it’s somewhat inhumane. Given endless space and often-increasing, ever-cheaper system resources, music software has been, charitably, less-than-friendly. Resembling a 70s jumbo jet cockpit, UI controls multiply and shrink to the point that they challenge all but an 18-year-old pair of eyes. Add in clunky default OS widgets, collapsible tabs and dockable windows that add still more complexity, and you wind up with a trainwreck. What these hardware emulations prove is that you could learn something from hardware – even when the need for blank space, big knobs and faders and buttons, limited controls, and standard hardware inputs and readouts is gone.
So, back to the original product, what does $10 get your iPad? If you know how a Portastudio works, you probably already know most of the answer, but here’s a quick rundown:
- Cassette tape-style transport. (Linear transport, I might add. Seriously. You have to rewind and fast forward to get around.)
- Routing to four inputs.
- Mixdown to stereo (via a dialog box, so that’s the point where you break the illusion).
- Simple EQ.
- File sharing, via iTunes or Soundcloud. (This last item is what makes this a useful tool and not just a novelty.)
- Support for ‘a few’ class-compliant audio interfaces, though your mileage may vary.
The development work was done by a well-loved developer, Chris Randall / Audio Damage. (Chris I think does learn hardware’s design lessons in his UIs.) See his blog post:
Hey, Look What I Made…
The bad news: no bounce, which seems a major oversight. Ironically, Tascam also has to admit that they don’t have any class-compliant audio interfaces. (Doh!) In case you’re wondering, they also say flat out in the FAQ, don’t expect versions for other operating systems soon — too bad, as this would seem fairly ideal in a reduced form on iPhone and iPod touch.
But the radical simplicity of this app could be its appeal. I may actually fire this up to use as a recording sketchpad, especially with hardware synths, Game Boys, and so on.
And forget the app itself: this ought to be a perfect time to look back and remember what made the original PortaStudio great – and wonder why so often those same design principles are lost.
One of the famed Tascam models, the sort that may well bring up fond memories of mobile recording. (Not quite the right model, but you get the idea.) Photo (CC-BY-SA) Lucius Kwok (the developer), via Wikimedia Commons
(Via Create Digital Music.)