What is Apple AirPlay and How Does It Work

what is apple airplay and how does it workWe hear a lot about Apple AirPlay, but it’s a fairly new technology, and still fairly confusing. So what, exactly, is AirPlay? Basically, it is a way to use a home network to be able link up Apple devices to each other, so you can access media across devices, even if it’s not stored on that device locally. That means you don’t have to keep copies of everything on every device – you can stream from one device to another.

AirPlay works over your wireless, so all of your devices must be connected via the same wireless network or over Bluetooth (though this a battery drain, and wireless is probably a better choice for most uses). You can use an Apple Airport (Apple’s wireless router), but it’s not necessary. Any wireless router will work, as long as all your devices can connect to it.

AirPlay-enabled devices should be able to recognize each other, which takes the guesswork out of which devices can stream to where. AirPlay is available on devices running iOS 4.3 or later, though not all features are available on all devices. Here’s a handy chart from Apple about the minimum requirements for each device. Generally though, you can use at least some features of AirPlay with the iPhone 4, 4S and 5, the iPad 2, 3 and 4, Airport Express, and Apple TV 2nd Generation and 3rd Generation, and any computer running iTunes 10.3 or higher.

The capabilities of each device also depend on whether you’re streaming “to” or “from” that device. One key point: you can’t use AirPlay between mobile devices (your iPad to iPhone, for example). iPhones, iPads and computers are senders only. Receivers are AirPort Express and Apple TV.

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Five Underrated Features of iOS6 & the iPhone5

Add a photo in Mail with iOS6
iOS6 lets you add a photo in Mail. Not exactly groundbreaking, but somehow revolutionary anyway.

They say the devil is in the details, but it for Apple it seems like the small stuff is actually the most redeeming feature of their latest software update, iOS6, which is otherwise getting killed by complaints about the new Apple Maps. You’ve seen http://theamazingios6maps.tumblr.com/, right? These small updates aren’t as obvious (or glamorous!) as Maps, but they’re way, way more useful, and not just because they seem to work.

Reminders Badges
Badges are what Apple calls those little circle notifications that show up on the top right of your apps (like when you have App updates to install, for example). If you’ve got reminders piling up, the Badges will remind you of your reminders.

Improved GPS Reminders
I love reminders, can you tell? In iOS5 we were able to set a reminder based on our current GPS location so we’d be reminded of something whenever we arrived or left that location. The problem was that the only location you could be reminded about was wherever you were. Now you can set an address and be reminded whenever your in the vicinity of that location: near the grocery store or the library for example.

Phone Calls “Reply With Message”
I have one phone for personal and work use, and no landline. That means I spend a decent amount of time on it, and in things like conference calls you’re usually not free to do any call waiting magic! The new reply with message feature lets you send a pre-written message letting the caller know you’re on the phone and you’ll call them back when you can, so they know you’re not just ignoring their call.

Add a Picture from Mail
This one is so obvious (and handy) it’s almost infuriating we didn’t have it before! How many times have you gone into mail to send a picture, only to realize you can only do it from your photos? This is finally fixed so you can email a photo from Mail. Seeing as that’s how  it works for every other email service it shouldn’t feel revolutionary, but it does.

Custom Text Message Vibrations
This is another one that doesn’t sound groundbreaking, but has already improved my life substantially. Basically, you can assign contacts a special vibration for when they text you. So for example, your S.O., boss and best friend could have a “priority” vibration, your other close friends a different one, and then everyone else is unassigned. It’s already kept me from jumping up to check a text message that’s actually just a reminder to pay my wireless bill :)

So yes, they’re small changes, but they really have made a difference in how I use my iPhone. Besides, I already have a GPS Unit in the car.

For more on how to upgrade to iOS6, check out our post from a couple weeks ago.


Carbonite Mobile Brings Wireless Backup to Android Phones

Carbonite Mobile Backup for Android Devices
Infographic, Data from Carbonite’s survey with Wakefield Research

We’ve talked before about how important it is to back up your data (see here, here, and here). But what’s interesting is that so many of us don’t back up our mobile devices: according to a survey from Carbonite and Wakefield Research, 62% of people with camera phones don’t back those photos up anywhere. And that’s just the photos! iCloud backup may help iPhone owners, but for Android users the choices are less straightforward, unless there’s specific backup software associate with your device.

Carbonite has just released a solution for Android (and iOS) users that can take the pain out of backing up video and photos. Just configure the app once to automatically back up photos and videos, and you can access them remotely anytime from any Android or iOS device, plus your computer.

Carbonite is also the maker of a respected backup system for computers, and offers both individual and enterprise solutions. Makers of a respected backup system for individual and enterprise users, subscribers to the primary Carbonite service also receive 24/7 access to all the files they have backed up with Carbonite.

Carbonite mobile also offers Android users some of the same features as iCloud’s “find my phone.” First off, there’s the ability to locate the phone on a map and force it to ring, even if it’s on vibrate or silent. For security, you can use the app the remotely lock the device with a pin number, or to just go all-out and wipe the contents of your phone. It’s worth it if your device is stolen, and less of a big deal if you’ve been backing up your data.

Right now, Carbonite’s mobile solution is free, presumably as a loss leader to get you interested in their home and business backup services. But given that you should be backing up anyway (remember all those articles we just linked to?) it’s not a bad idea to investigate whether Carbonite could be a good comprehensive backup solution for your needs.

How to Upgrade Your iPhone to iOS6: What You Need to Know

iphone 5 and new ipad running iOS6iOS6 is coming tomorrow September 19th! If you have an eligible device, it’s important to do some crucial prep work to make sure you’ll be able to update with minimal hassle. Even if you don’t care too much about feature updates, it’s a good idea to download the new iOS just for the security and bug fixes alone. Plus the upgrade is free, so why not?

So first, what’s eligible?

The short answer is all the recent iDevices. That includes:

– iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone4S
– iPad 2 and the iPad3 (also known as the “New iPad”)
– iPod Touch 4

It’s important to note that not all devices will have the capability to take advantage of all of the features of iOS6. Lots of the small tweaks of iOS6 will be available to everyone, but many of the key features will only be rolled out to the newest devices. Check out our chart:

How to Upgrade

1. Tidy Up a Little
Take this opportunity to get rid of stuff you’re not using. It’s just taking up memory space. Go through your photos, notes, and videos: if you have them in another place, do you really need it on your device? Delete apps you’re not using. Think of it like cleaning out your closet: if you haven’t used it in 3-6 months you don’t need it!

2. Back up your iDevice
Make sure you back up.  It’s a two part process, so hang on tight. To start, make sure your device is connected to a power source and you have stable WiFi. On your phone, go to Settings > iCloud > Backup and Storage > Backup Now.  iCloud backup is free for all iTunes purchases of music, movies, TV shows, apps, and books. For everything else (including camera roll photos), Apple gives you 5GB of storage for free and lets you pay for more. If you don’t want to pay for more storage it’s not a big deal: you probably still need to plug your device into a computer running iTunes. Here’s why:

iCloud will not back up media you didn’t purchase from iTunes (music, movies, etc), podcasts and audiobooks, and photos transfered from your computer. So you probably need to sync with iTunes by connecting your device to a machine running iTunes, either via USB or wireless. If you haven’t set up wireless syncing with iTunes then don’t start now: go the old fashioned way and plug into your computer.

3. Get the most recent version of iTunes (10.7)

If you already have iTunes on your computer, you can update by going to iTunes > Check for Updates. If you are having trouble with the auto update, you can also download it at http://www.apple.com/itunes/.

That should do it! You’ll be all set to bask in the glow of iOS6. If you have questions feel free to leave a comment or get in touch on Twitter @smbizgomobile.

Mountain Lion hits stores next month for $19.99

Forgot to upgrade to Lion? Or maybe you were just waiting? That’s okay. Even if you’re stuck on OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, the cost to upgrade all of your computers to the latest version of Apple’s desktop operating system, 10.8 Mountain Lion is under twenty bucks. And it isn’t coming out next year, nope this baby is ready to roll out Apple’s door and onto your MacBook next month!

There are tons of new features coming your way including:

Power Nap which keeps your Mac up-to-date while it sleeps. This means email, calendar, reminders, and even your photo stream are all synced while it sleeps. It can even update apps and download system updates as well as back up to your time machine while you’re away. It doesn’t spin up your fans, and it goes easy on your battery.
Voice dictation in any app
Social integration in all apps—enter your Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, Vimeo or other social login info just once, and then use apps like Preview, Safari, and Mail to painlessly share media and links just like on your iPhone
– Vastly improved notifications all come from one spot rather than a variety of apps. Plus, they can all be easily turned off: automatically when you connect to a projector, or manually when you just want to be left alone.
– iCloud support for documents, notes, reminders that syncs immediately and seamlessly. Edit a document on your phone, and it’s already changed on your Mac.
– New Safari features the fastest JavaScript engine, unified search field (just like my personal favorite Chrome!), and iCloud tabs which sync your open tabs between all of your devices (including other Macs, iPhones, iPod touches and iPads)
– Support for HiDPI displays like the new retina MacBook Pro
Airplay to share your screen instantly to an Apple TV, just like your iPad or iPhone does today. The quickest way to get your computer to display on a TV or Projector in full 1080p HD.

and much, much more! Apple is bringing more than 200 new features to Mountain Lion, so this is far from the only exciting new features we’re going to find out about Apple’s latest desktop (and laptop!) operating system :)

Comparing Mobile Payment Technologies: PayPal? Square? Verifone? A look at all three

As you may know, the market for allowing individuals and small businesses to accept credit card payment through mobile devices is really blowing up.  In fact, just this morning I saw a television commercial for Square’s mobile payment service. PayPal is even getting into the game with their ‘PayPal Here’ solution.

We’ve talked about Square a lot here, as well as Venmo and other ways for folks to pay (and get paid) on the go.  I’m excited about these technologies, because they empower individuals and small businesses through lowering their bar for credit card integration.  Now that the powerhouse of digital payments, PayPal, has entered the space, we can be pretty sure that this type of technology is here to stay. So, the only thing left to do is to compare them and see which fits best for you and your business.

So, how do these different providers stack up? Read More

Venmo To Vegas: A Simple, Free Way to Pay Your Friends and Associates

I’m at that age where everyone I know is getting married, and that means one thing: parties.  Specifically, for me as a guy this means bachelor parties, w00t!  So this week, according to Bing,  was the best time to book a July flight to Las Vegas because the prices would only go up.  No one likes to travel alone, so since my buddy Paul will be heading out to the same party we decided to fly together.

I hopped onto one of the “flight deal” sites and bought two round-trip tickets to Vegas with my credit card.  I told Paul over Gchat that I had booked our tickets, and asked him how he wanted to pay for his half.

“Do you use Venmo?”, he asked.

Well guess what? I do now!  Venmo is a simple, fun, and free way to pay your friends.  It took me less than 5 minutes to sign up with facebook, verify my bank account, and bill my friend for his part of our flight.   Read More

Square Register is the best Point of Sale for iPad

Point of sale software on the iPad is nothing new, but it’s definitely worth a second look now that Square has released Square Register, their app for accepting both card and cash payments via your iPad.

The new Square Register should be ideal for a small business owner. Once you sign up for Square, you get a Square “Card Reader”, a little dongle that allows you to swipe credit cards. As long as you have a place to stash your cash, you can also take cash payments with just a tap of your touch screen. Read More

Box Cloud Storage for iOS adds App Compatibility Menu

Box One Cloud for iPad

Nowadays, picking a cloud storage service so your mobile devices can have access to the same documents as your desktop/laptop can very well depend on how many other mobile apps are compatible. The major cloud storage services recognize this and have made sure that the majority of the apps you already use to “get things done” play nice with their offerings.

Box just made it easier for users to discover compatible 3rd Party apps by releasing an update to their iOS apps that includes the OneCloud menu that lists and allows users to download all compatible apps. Read More

What’s Good? Mobile Device Management Tools with Military-Grade Security

In case you’ve been under a rock, modern mobilty is all about being productive everywhere.  As we also know, one of the greatest concerns in any business is security.  It’s obvious that these two forces work against each other in some ways.  Empowering your staff to be productive while on the go means the increased potential of exposing your company secrets.

For a long time, RIM’s Blackberry had a stranglehold on this market segment.  If you wanted secure email on the go, Blackberry was the answer.  However, the Canadian mobile maker has lagged behind the tech curve, and it looks like the market is finally catching up with them.  Increasingly, employees want to use their personal device for mobile productivity, but using personal devices for work presents a security risk for the business.  So, how can employees stay secure without having to carry a bunch of devices around with them, doing tasks based on which device can get the job done?

Enter Good for Enterprise.  Good for Enterprise is a suite of mobile device management tools with military-grade security for data loss prevention. Their collaboration features for iOS, Android, and Windows phone enable productivity without keeping your IT team up at night. Read More