That sweet little iPad app you see there in the corner could very well be Spotify, which currently tops our list of iOS apps that really need a tabletized update. As Premium members, we look forward to blasting a barrage of ‘80s one-hit wonders from our iPad, and doubling up the screen resolution of the existing iPhone/iPod touch app simply won’t do (although it does look quite clean on our new iPad, FWIW). While we are waiting for Spotify’s special event on Wednesday, let’s kick back and soak in the day’s news for this lazy Monday, April 16, 2012.
Last Thursday, Microsoft released Service Pack 2 for Office 2011 for Mac, which at first glance was simply another bug-squashing update — that is, until we took a look at the the apps themselves. Much to our surprise, Word, Excel and PowerPoint now support full-screen mode on OS X Lion, as noted on the Office for Mac blog. The service pack also improves grammar checkers for Italian and German and beefs up SkyDrive document storage, in addition to a host of changes to Outlook, which is cited as “our top priority for this release.” If you like reading all the minutiae included with such releases, Microsoft has also posted a Knowledge Base article detailing the full list of changes.
What goes on behind the scenes at technology companies may not always make for newsworthy items, but when it impacts the ways we interact with the internet, it’s often worth a look. Such is the case with Iris, the new technology announced today by “read later” service Readability. The company’s “content normalization engine” went live earlier today and promises “improved results as you use Readability over the next few weeks.” So what does it do? “With Iris, we’ve built an engine that you might call abstract — inspired by IBM’s Watson, the machine that beat contestants on Jeopardy!, Iris’ first order of business is to figure what type of content source is at hand,” the Readability blog explains. “It analyzes a page, determines the likely context based on a number of factors and extracts what a human would expect as meaningful information from that source. Each context is fully malleable, and can be modified and improved upon individually.” The end result promises “a dramatically improved user experience across the myriad apps, services and tools built on Readability.” We look forward to giving it a spin!
The Spotify iOS app received yet another app today, but don’t go looking for native iPad support — it’s still not there. According to The Verge, it could be coming soon — and we mean, officially, rather than last week’s news about an unofficial app from designer Max Petriv. Turns out “a Swedish technology consultant” posted a purported beta version of the Spotify iPad app to Instagram with a mysterious caption, “It’s getting closer!” Ironically, Spotify has a special event planned for this Wednesday, April 18, so let’s all cross our fingers that the slick-looking iPad app in that Instagram photo might wind up landing in the App Store on the same day.
Still on the fence about Apple’s iWork productivity software or Aperture, the pro-level step up from iPhoto? Looks like you’ll be ponying up for the apps to find out if you like them now, with MacStories.net reporting that Apple has pulled the 30-day free trial versions of both from their website. No one is sure exactly why, and in the case of Aperture 3, the trial version may have been pulled up to two weeks ago without anyone really paying attention. Meanwhile, a trip to the iWork website now points you to the Mac App Store with the friendly reminder: “The trial version of iWork is no longer supported. But you can easily purchase Keynote, Pages, and Numbers from the Mac App Store to start creating beautiful presentations, documents, and spreadsheets today.” Does this mean one or both apps may soon see a refresh? Could the Mac App Store be adding a much-needed “try before you buy” feature? Beats us, but we’ll be keeping our eyes on this for further developments.
Does the world need yet another cloud storage system? Google seems to think so, with leaks quietly slipping out for the company’s forthcoming Google Drive service. And it appears closer than you might think: The Next Web is reporting the service may be launching next week, complete with client software for Mac and PC as well as iOS and Android. So how does Google plan to do Dropbox one better? The service is rumored to come with 5GB of cloud storage free, which beats the pants off Dropbox with only 2GB (and matches the 5GB offered free by competitor SugarSync). The service also promises to work “in desktop folders,” although no one is quite sure exactly what that means as yet. From the sound of it, Google Drive could launch by the middle of next week, followed by a flood of installations and likely the sound of crickets chirping, if Drive follows in the footsteps of Google+, for example…
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(Image courtesy of The Verge)