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Apple is known for often being one of the fore-runners in adopting new technologies – Firewire, ExpressCard, and Mini DisplayPort spring to mind. But equally, the company can be ruthless about dropping the inclusion of features they no longer feel to be relevant.

Blu-ray is an interesting outlier, and it isn’t obvious whether Apple is planning to adopt the technology yet. As themselves a video distributor through the iTunes Store, choosing to include an optical format that’s almost exclusively used for HD films would not necessarily be in their competitive interest.

Apple is a purveyor of the benefits of downloadable content – whether that be apps, music, or HD movies and TV shows. It even seems that they’d ultimately like to move away from optical media altogether, as is the case with the MacBook Air.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with this. I rarely use the DVD drive in the MacBook Pro – a couple of times per year at most – and I wouldn’t think twice before purchasing a machine with no optical drive at all. I don’t own any Blu-ray equipment or media, and am content downloading HD content from the iTunes Store.

But do you feel the same? Or is it Apple’s duty to support a wide range of formats – especially widespread standards such as Blu-ray? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Developers have taken one of three approaches with the Mac App Store. It’s either being completely passed over by a developer, used as an additional way to sell their app (as well as through their own website), or adopted as the sole, exclusive way to buy their software.

The initial anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that both of the latter approaches are working extremely well, with many developers seeing sales increase by over ten times the usual number.

But what do you think of the Mac App Store becoming an exclusive sales channel for Mac software? Many developers (such as Pixelmator) have chosen to now sell their software only through the App Store. The advantages are obvious – Apple handles payment, processing, distribution, and gives a serious promotional boost.

Personally, I’m fairly happy with this arrangement. Buying software through the Mac App Store is easy, fast, and a huge improvement over the previous disjointed and inconsistent process that varied significantly between developer websites. Many of the problems that plagued the App Store at the outset are gradually fading away, and we’re starting to see a much improved system with fewer high-profile rejections and judgement errors.

But what do you think? Is selling exclusively through the Mac App Store a great way to simplify your life as a developer, or should software creators be thinking twice before putting all their eggs in Apple’s basket? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Hot on the heels of our recent roundup of blockbuster Mac games, I thought it would be interesting to see just how many of you do use your Mac for gaming on a regular basis.

In recent months, I’ve actually found my iPad to be the go-to choice for trying out new games and killing time. Although there are a vast array of games available for the Mac, I often find the high price point to be too much of a barrier. If I can instead pay $5 or $10 for a fun iPad game, I’m more likely to go for it.

Consoles certainly still rule the market when it comes to gaming, but more and more Mac users are finding that their machine is much better suited for gaming than they originally thought.

I’d love to hear what you think, so be sure to fill out our weekly poll and leave your own thoughts in the comments. Are you a regular Mac gamer, or do you prefer to stick to a dedicated console?

Well, the end of 2010 is almost upon us! It’s been a fantastic year of technology releases, and announcements – not just in our Apple bubble, but across the whole industry.

For me personally, my iPad has changed the way I read, the iPhone 4 completely revolutionised my appreciation of screen technology, and I finally got around to purchasing an SSD (the verdict is in – they’re astounding).

A few weeks ago, I published a few thoughts on what I considered to be the Best Mac Software of 2010, but there’s a whole lot to look forward to over the coming year.

Whether you’re stoked about OS X Lion, excited to try out the Mac App Store, or on the edge of your seat about the iPad 2, 2011 is going to be an action packed year for Apple users everywhere.

But what’s the one thing that you really can’t wait for? Let us know in our weekly poll, and we’ll be extra sure to bring you plenty of news and coverage around that particular event next year!

For many people, Christmas Day is a great opportunity to switch off completely. I always try to avoid using gadgets and technology, preferring to spend quality time with the people that I really care about. It sounds cliché, sure, but days like these are incredibly important from time to time.

We’re all permanently connected to the Internet, and our access to emails, social media, and the ongoing barrage of communication is no longer limited to “the office”. If you’re anything like me, it sometimes feels that your iPhone is physically attached to your body, following you around everywhere you go.

Sometimes, this is brilliant. Being in constant communication and always “plugged in”, gives us a connection to the world that people would never have dreamt of a few decades ago.

But it’s no way to live your life every day of the year.

Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, why not consider the 25th December a day to leave your MacBook lid firmly shut, turn off your iPhone, and just enjoy the day with family and friends? You never know – it might just be something you want to make a regular thing!

Although OS X is (at least in my humble opinion!) the best operating system on the market, most people have a need to boot into Windows, Linux, or another OS from time to time. Apple made this easier with the release of Boot Camp a few years ago, and dual booting your Mac is now a pretty simple process.

There are, of course, several other ways to run multiple operating systems within OS X itself (we’ve written about the process a few times), using applications such as Parallels Desktop.

Various advantages exist for each method. Using Boot Camp gives better performance in your alternative OS, making it a great option if you want to run processor-intensive applications such as the latest games. Running both operating systems side-by-side is more practical for simpler tasks, such as testing a website in multiple browsers.

So my question for you today is, do you dual boot?

With Macworld 2011 slowly approaching, I thought it would be interesting to ask whether any of our readers have attended this conference previously (or are planning on going next year).

If you’re unaware of what Macworld is, essentially it’s a four day event that covers everything to do with the Mac. It includes user sessions focusing on teaching, an Expo floor for software exhibitors, various conference programmes, and generally lots of Mac-geekery! It’s based in San Francisco, running from the 26th-29th January.

Although Apple used to attend this event, the company pulled out prior to last year’s event. It seems that the 2010 conference was still a major success, despite their absence, and Macworld will be running once again next month.

The AppStorm team is going to be in attendance in January (a first for all of us!), and we’re really looking forward to meeting a few of you there. Let us know if you’ll be going in the comments!

Apple’s retail operation has been a huge success for the company, with over 300 stores worldwide, across 11 different countries. Rather than a dry retail experience, everything in an Apple Store is carefully thought about—right down to the type of wood used for the counters.

The model of “Come to shop. Return to learn.” works well, instilling a sense of creativity and education into an otherwise very commercial experience. Although the primary aim of an Apple store is obviously to sell Apple products, the commitment to having creative specialists and dedicated trainers is something rarely found elsewhere.

I have a couple of Apple Stores close by in Manchester, but have been finding that over the years they are becoming far more crowded, all the time. What used to be a fantastic browsing experience is now akin to fighting your way to the front of a packed concert venue.

Are you finding the same thing? And how often do you visit an Apple Store nearby? I’d be interested to know whether you still find it a great place to check out the latest Apple gadgets, or if the ever-increasing crowds make visiting more of a necessity than a pleasure.

Much has been written about Apple’s decision to no longer ship the MacBook Air with Flash pre-installed, and while there are plenty of arguments for and against this, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that uninstalling Flash can dramatically improve your browsing experience and battery life.

Apple themselves have stated that Flash is the number one cause of crashes in Safari, and—if you’ve ever watched a YouTube video on your MacBook—you’ll know that all the system fans kicking in can’t be good for your battery life.

Unless you spend a great deal of time designing or visiting Flash websites, you should definitely try uninstalling it for a few days. I have, and I won’t be going back in a hurry.

Fortunately, there are a few simple workarounds to make the transition easier and still allow you to use Flash when you really need to.

John Gruber posted a great article on this topic a few weeks ago, explaining that even after installing Flash system-wide, it’s still available in Google Chrome (as it has its own self-contained Flash plugin). For the few times I need Flash on a day-to-day basis, this workaround is more than reasonable for me.

I’ve noticed a far quicker browsing experience, and found that many sites actually serve alternative content when they discover you don’t have Flash installed. This is more notable than when you’re running ClickToFlash, and uninstalling Flash altogether is a more honest process than tricking websites into letting ClickToFlash handle this type of content.

Is this something you’ve tried on your own machine? If not, I’d strongly recommend giving it a go, even if just for a few days! Have your say in the poll above, and let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Office 2011 brings plenty of improvements over previous versions, but it’s still far from perfect. And despite the overwhelming dominance of Microsoft Office across Windows and Mac, it certainly isn’t the only suite of office-style tools available.

Personally, I’m a huge fan of the iWork suite. After a sluggish and frustrating first release, I think that it has improved in leaps and bounds. I use Pages and Numbers almost exclusively for all my word processing and spreadsheet work (though I prefer to write in something simpler most of the time).

Another alternative is the excellent OpenOffice, which recently celebrated its 10th birthday. This has really become a viable contender in recent years, and version 3 felt considerably more “at home” on OS X. If you’ve never used OpenOffice before, it’s definitely worth taking a look at.

So, which suite of “office” style applications do you use? Like me, are you an iWork fan? Or do you think that Microsoft Office still leads the way in this area? Share your thoughts in the comments – I’d love to hear what you think!

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