Monthly Archives: May 2016

Streaming Faster Tips

A decade ago, streaming video on a mobile phone was wishful thinking at best. Today, a video chat app invented by a college student is positioning itself for an IPO.

The mobile internet has advanced at a staggering pace, and the world is already preparing for the next major phase in its evolution: 5G. Many people have little concept of the communications infrastructure already in place, let alone what might be next, but it’s important to note that many of the technologies on the horizon — self-driving cars, the Internet of Things, 360-degree-video-capturing drones — will require faster wireless networks. And all of this new tech will require a slew of new businesses to power it.

Related: The 12 Trends That Will Drive the Tech Conversation Over the Next Year

“Offering ‘perceived infinite capacity,’ 5G will provide the basis for the emergence of ubiquitous new wireless platforms that, in turn, will support the creation of an array of new services and businesses,” wrote Richard Adler, a distinguished fellow at the Institute for the Future, in a Recode essay on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Adler held a telephone press conference on the subject of 5G in advance of the inaugural White House Frontiers Conference on science and technology, which takes place today in Pittsburgh. The conference will highlight burgeoning fields such as machine learning and on-demand services — and their potential to connect the world and shape the future on personal, local, national, global and interplanetary levels, or “frontiers.” Representatives from Pfizer, Fitbit, NASA and more are convening today to discuss what’s on the horizon for U.S. innovation, and Adler asserts that 5G will be a key driver of what’s to come.

Adler makes comparisons to the advent of the telephone, cable TV and even the iTunes App Store as comparable “platforms” for innovation throughout history. Several industries developed atop each of these, and 5G will unlock further opportunities. Consider cybersecurity: New networks will mean new entry points for hackers, and in turn, innovation on the part of those who protect against them. This is just one example, though “imaginative entrepreneurs,” as Adler describes, will create new services and capabilities beyond what is forecasted today.

Related: 6 Things You Need to Know About Google Fiber

The federal government has recognized the potential of 5G, and in July, the National Science Foundation pledged to invest $400 million in 5G research. The FCC has taken steps as well. But in order for 5G to be fully realized, state and local governments are going to have to get on board with private enterprises and research institutions. They will have to ensure that the necessary infrastructure can be installed quickly and cost-effectively, Adler explains.

The high frequency of 5G waves means they will not be able to travel as far as current 4G frequencies. This will require more infrastructure in places beyond just cell towers — think utility poles and inside buildings.

Create and Present Digital Slide Presentations

There’s still no clear indication when or if Microsoft will release a version of Office for the iPhone and iPad. However, if you’re a PowerPoint user or if you have the need to create, edit, and/or present digital slide shows using your mobile device, Apple’s own Keynote app offers a viable solution.

Keynote is compatible with Microsoft PowerPoint. This means that if you create a presentation on your PC or Mac using PowerPoint, you can import it into Keynote on your iOS mobile device in order to review, edit, or present it to a group. It’s also possible to export a presentation from Keynote using the PowerPoint format.

This import or export process can be done with iCloud, the online version of Keynote that’s available for free on iCloud.com, email, iTunes Sync, or by using another compatible cloud-based service. When PowerPoint presentations are created on another computer and imported into your iPhone or iPad, or created on your iOS mobile device and exported to a computer, you may run into minor compatibility issues related to fonts, animations, and slide transitions. Some—but not all—of these issues have been resolved within version 2.1 of Keynote for iOS, which was released on January 23, 2014.

During the import/export process, minor formatting issues typically fix themselves automatically, but it’s important to review your presentation carefully before presenting it to others.

For example, if the presentation was created using a font that’s not installed on the computer or mobile device being used to view it, a substitute font will be used, and a warning message is displayed during the import process. This substitute font might alter a slide’s layout and appearance, requiring manual adjustments to be made.

The good news is that Keynote for the iPhone/iPad is fully compatible with Keynote for the Mac and also with the online edition of Keynote that can be run from iCloud.com.

Creating a Keynote Presentation Begins by Choosing a Theme

The redesigned user interface used by Keynote offers a more streamlined design. Upon launching the app and accessing the Library screen (which displays the presentations stored within the app), you can begin creating a new presentation from scratch simply by tapping the plus sign icon that’s displayed in the top-left corner of the screen on the iPad, or by tapping the Create Presentation thumbnail that’s displayed in the main area of the Library screen, along with your other presentations (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 From the Library screen of Keynote, you can create a new presentation or load an existing presentation

The Choose A Theme screen is displayed next (see Figure 2). From here, choose one of the 30 predesigned slideshow themes built into the app. A theme allows you to choose an overall design and color scheme for your presentation work with a series of blank slide templates that fit into that theme. Any of the app’s themes and individual slide templates can be customized as you’re developing or editing a presentation.

Figure 2 Once you choose to create a new presentation from scratch, select one of the presentation templates to get started

If you’re working on a business presentation, choose a theme that’s best suited for your presentation’s topic and audience. As a general rule, keep it simple so you don’t accidentally distract your audience from your intended content using visual eye candy.

Plenty of Third-Party Themes are Available

Choosing an appropriate theme sets the tone of your entire presentation for your audience. If the app’s selection of themes isn’t enough, visit the App Store, and within the Search field, enter the keywordKeynote. A selection of third-party theme and slide template options are offered.

For example, Templates for Keynote Pro ($4.99) offers an additional assortment of 40 customizable themes. Each theme includes preformatted slides for displaying text, bulleted lists, tables, pictures, charts, diagrams, and/or quotes.

The optional Templates for Keynote Presentations ($3.99) app expands your selection of themes, but also includes a handful of new slide transition effects and a graphics library that makes it easier to create impressive 3-D charts as well as eye-catching tables and diagrams.

The Templates for Keynote (for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch) app ($1.99) includes a selection of 55 templates, each with a unique collection of preformatted slides that can be imported into the Keynote app and used just like one of the app’s built-in themes.

For an additional collection of 60 optional themes for Keynote, the optional Still Themes for Keynote app ($2.99) is also available. Many of these themes are visually simple, making them ideal for business presentations.

The optional Toolbox for Keynote app (free) gives your iPhone or iPad access to online-based themes, slide templates, clip art, stock photography, bullet graphics, and other assets that can be downloaded and incorporated into a Keynote presentation. Individual in-app purchases (priced between $0.99 and $9.99) are required to gain access to some of the content that’s available for download. To access this content, the smartphone or tablet must have Internet access. To access the entire app’s content, the Toolbox for Keynote app can be fully unlocked for a one-time fee of $29.99.

Separate third-party add-ons for the Keynote for Mac app are available from the Mac App Store. If one of these themes, for example, is added to a presentation that’s created on a Mac and then transferred to an iPad, it will typically work fine on all computers and mobile devices with which the presentation is ultimately viewed.

If you’ve created your own template from scratch, or have done a lot of customizations to an existing template or theme and know you’ll want to use it again, the free Template Saver (for Pages, Keynote, and Numbers) app allows you to save the template or theme and allow it to appear within the Choose A Theme screen of the Keynote app in the future, so you have easy access to it.

Choose the Best Way to Convey Your Information

The trick to creating a great presentation is to begin by sitting down and determining exactly what information you want to convey within each of your slides and then choose the best way to present that information visually, based on the slide formats available to you.

In some cases, using a slide that displays text will help you to emphasize an important point. When using text within a Keynote presentation, keep the number of words displayed on the screen at once to a minimum (see Figure 3).

Figure 3 Use a few words and graphics to convey key points within your presentation. Brevity works in your favor as the presenter

You need to make sure that the audience will be able to visually see the text that’s displayed, but not have to focus too much on trying to read each word while also listening to what’s being said. Figure 4 shows a slide that is very text-intensive, which could deflect the audience’s attention away from what the speaker is saying.

Figure 4 This slide is very text-intensive and uses several different colors, which might distract the audience

Often, bulleted lists are an effective way to share text-based information with your audience. When creating a bulleted list, include no more than five bullets per slide, and keep each bullet short.

It’s often appropriate to use sentence fragments instead of complete sentences within a bulleted list. Thanks to formatting features built into Keynote, instead of using dots as your bullets, it’s possible to choose from a wide range of graphic symbols and then customize the color and appearance of the bullet graphic using visual effects (such as a drop-shadow).

Add Graphics, Photos, Charts, and Graphics to Your Presentation

Using one or two photos or clip art images within a single slide can sometimes help you convey a particular point. Many individual slide templates offer designs for easily incorporating graphics with text.

As you create or edit any slide, adding a graphic or digital photo that’s already stored within your mobile device is very easy. On the iPad, simply tap the plus sign icon that’s displayed near the top-right corner of the screen and then tap the Photos, Table, Chart, Text, or Shape tab (see Figure 5).

iOS Mobile Device

Some people love to read. Whether it involves losing themselves in the pages of an action-packed thriller or the heartwarming story conveyed in a romance novel, learning a new skill from a how-to book, or reading a biography about someone they admire, a book can be a source of entertainment or knowledge while providing an escape from everyday life.

Unfortunately, people trying to keep up in their fast-paced lives are finding less and less time to read a traditional book. However, most people can use some of their unproductive time in a car, on an airplane flight, while working out, while preparing a meal, or while relaxing in bed and simultaneously (and passively) listening to an audiobook. Millions of fiction and nonfiction books have been released in audiobook form, allowing people to listen to a book being read to them by a narrator instead of reading it themselves.

Thanks to digital audiobook distribution services, which include the iTunes Store and Audible.com, there’s no longer a hefty financial premium to acquire and listen to audiobooks, which used to cost between $30.00 and $50.00 (or more). In fact, these days, the cost of most audiobooks is comparable to purchasing a traditional paperback or hardcover book (between $5.95 and $29.95).

As a result, most of the major publishing houses are releasing abridged or unabridged versions of bestselling books that can be purchased, downloaded, and listened to on an iPhone, iPad, or any computer or device capable of playing digital audio files.

Acquiring Audiobooks from the iTunes Store

For acquiring eBooks, which are digital text-based editions of books that can be read on your iPhone or iPad screen, Apple operates its online-based iBookstore and offers the free iBooks app, which is specifically designed for reading eBooks. However, if you want to purchase and enjoy audiobooks on your iOS mobile device, you can shop from the Apple iTunes Store and then listen to the downloaded audio content using the Music app that comes preinstalled with iOS 7.

To browse the ever-growing collection of audiobooks available from the iTunes Store, launch the iTunes Store app from your Internet-connected iPhone or iPad. On the iPhone, tap the More icon that’s displayed at the bottom of the screen and then select the Audiobooks option. On the iPad, the Audiobooks icon can be found near the bottom center of the main app screen.

Once you access the iTunes Store Audiobooks area, the process of browsing and then purchasing audiobooks is very much like acquiring a TV show episode, movie, or album. The iTunes Store Audiobook section initially displays what’s equivalent to the Featured screen when shopping for TV shows, movies, music, or apps. This screen promotes newly released, Apple recommended, and popular audiobook titles.

By tapping the Categories option, you can browse through more than two dozen subject categories, ranging from Nonfiction, Business, and Classics, to Romance, Sports, and Technology.

It’s also possible to search for specific audiobook titles by entering a keyword related to a title, author, or subject into the iTunes Store app’s search field. Yet another option is to scroll toward the bottom of the Featured Audiobooks page within the iTunes Store and then tape of the Quick Links, which include a New This Week, Top Fiction, Top Nonfiction, Bestsellers By Category, Celebrity Narrators, and another specialized search options.

Ultimately, when you tap the listing for an audiobook, a detailed Description screen for that title is displayed. Part of each Description screen includes three tabs: Details, Reviews, and Related.

Tap the Details tab to display an audiobook’s title, cover art, author, publisher, its length, category, and average rating, along with a detailed description and other pertinent information. Tap the Reviews tab to see the star-based ratings for this book, as well as read detailed reviews written by your fellow iTunes Store customers. There’s also a “Like” button here that allows you to Like an audiobook on Facebook.

Tap the Related tab to display audiobooks that are by the same author or that have similar subject matter. Displayed just above these three tabs, you’ll see the audiobook’s Price button and a Preview button. Before making a purchase, tap the Preview button to hear a short sample of the audiobook. This is streamed for free to your device via the Internet.

When you’re ready to purchase an audiobook and download it to your iOS mobile device, tap the Price button. You’ll then be prompted to enter your Apple ID password to confirm your purchase. As when purchasing any other type of content from the iTunes Store, iBookstore, App Store, or Apple’s Newsstand, the purchase price is immediately charged to the credit or debit card that’s linked to your Apple ID account. Then the content is automatically downloaded to the device on which it was purchased. At the same time, the content becomes available to all your other computers and iOS mobile devices that are linked to the same iCloud account.

Thus, you can start listening to it on your iPad, for example, and then download the same audiobook from your iCloud account (at no additional cost), continue listening to it on your iPhone, or use the iTunes software on your Mac or PC. Your iCloud account will automatically sync your “bookmarks” and keep track of where you last paused the audiobook, so you can resume playing it from where you left off on any device.