Myst Comes to the iPhone and iPod Touch

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Date: Wednesday, May 6th, 2009, 23:35
Category: Game, iPhone, Software

Ah, the beautifully rendered scenes, the clever puzzles, and the creepy ambient sounds and music. If you’ve been a Mac user since the days of the beige cases, you probably remember all of these characteristics from playing the game Myst and its sequels, developed by Cyan which was founded by Rand and Robyn Miller.

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The original Myst, released in 1993, sold over 12 million copies and held the title of best-selling computer game until The Sims was released in 2000. The game was partly responsible for the CD’s increase in popularity as it was the first game to be released exclusively on CD. The game made extensive use of Apple’s QuickTime technology for its gameplay, and all the environments were complete 3D modeled creations, which was rare for games at the time.

Now, the entire game has been reproduced in iPhone/iPod Touch format and is available in the App Store [app link]. The game has been updated to use multi-touch controls rather than the original point and click navigation. Otherwise your trip through the four Ages of Myst to solve its puzzles and unravel the mystery of Atrus and his “linking books” remains intact from the original.

Myst requires 1.5GB of free space to install, though it will reduce in size to 727MB or so once it’s finished installing. The game requires iPhone 2.2.1 software and is $5.99 in the App Store.

iPhone OS 3.0 to Provide Much-Desired MMS Capabilities

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Date: Wednesday, May 6th, 2009, 10:03
Category: Opinion

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By Rachel Hoyer
So, you’ve just taken the world’s most adorable picture of your dog on your iPhone.
If you want to text it to your friends, you’re out of luck.
You’ll have to email it to them.
iPhone enthusiasts everywhere have bemoaned the lack of MMS support on the handset. MMS is the protocol which allows transmission of images in text messages. The current iPhone OS 2.2.1 software supports SMS, but not its MMS extension. SMS, or Short Messaging Service, is a communication protocol that enables text messaging between mobile devices. MMS, or Multimedia Messaging Service, is an extension of SMS that allows transmission of multimedia objects such as images, audio, video and rich text files within a text message. Both SMS and MMS are supported on a wide variety of mobile networks, including the 3G network used by iPhone. SMS and MMS technology are rapidly becoming obsolete due to widespread availability of the Internet on mobile devices via Wi-Fi, 3G and Apple Wireless technology. This may be the reason that Apple did not include MMS on previous iPhone software versions.
This begs the question: Why include SMS support, but not MMS support on iPhone OS 2.0? One possibility is that AT&T, the sole cell phone service provider for iPhone, pressured Apple into maintaining SMS text messaging support. Despite the advanced age of its technology, text messaging remains hugely popular among cell phone users. In addition, cell phone service providers such as AT&T rake in a ridiculously high profit margin on SMS text messaging services. But they make equal, if not more money, from selling ringtones and sending images delivered via MMS. Following the cell phone provider profits theory, it would be illogical to include SMS but not MMS. Another hypothesis: Apple did not want to deprive iPhone users of the highly convenient and popular SMS service, but assumed that MMS would not be missed given the ease of web access.
At present, when you try to send a picture on your iPhone, it is posted on a website. Then, a text message linking the page is sent to your selected recipients inviting them to visit the site to view the picture. While web browsing is a simple task on the iPhone, it is a problematic endeavor for many other types of cell phones. Although nearly all cell phones have MMS capability, typically their web browsers are both dodgy and expensive. Not to worry, iPhone users: Apple plans to release iPhone OS 3.0 in June which (along with a host of other improvements) will provide MMS support. The upgrade will be free for iPhone 3G owners and $9.99 for iPod Touch owners. Sadly, due to a hardware compatibility issue, older iPhone models are not upgradeable.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go email my friends pictures of my dog in a football jersey.

Apple Now Involved in Class Action Suit Regarding MagSafe Power Adapters

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Date: Wednesday, May 6th, 2009, 09:28
Category: Legal, MacBook

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A recently filed class action lawsuit has accused Apple Inc. of neglecting a flaw in its MagSafe power connector for MacBook notebooks that might not only cause a break but could trigger sparks, forcing customers to buy replacements and even creating a potential fire hazard.
According to AppleInsider, the suit, which was submitted late last week to a Northern District of California court in San Jose, the joint complaint from Tim Broad, Naotaka Kitagawa and Jesse Reisman claims that the MagSafe cable used for the MacBook and MacBook Pro will inevitably fray near one of its connecting ends. The claim contradicts Apple’s claims that the adapter is “durable.” The plaintiffs allege that day-to-day use, including winding the cable around the power adapter’s pop-out guides, ends up destroying the cable over time — and that Apple is aware of the problem but hasn’t fully addressed it with a safer design.
All three plaintiffs at varying points have had to buy replacement MagSafe adapters for their systems that, in two cases, have already either needed a replacement or are showing signs of needing one. The plastic sheath on the cable in each circumstance was often melted away and exposed the bare wiring. In the complaint, Broad noted the heat was enough that it might have caused fire damage to his home if he hadn’t been present to watch for the danger signs.
“It almost burned my hand when I brushed it accidentally,” he says in the 27-page filing.
The trio also points to numerous examples of similar patterns online, including Apple’s own online store, where the cables had frayed, melted or sparked and forced customers to get one or more replacements. Apple, meanwhile, only asks customers to visit a certified Apple service location if sparks occur anywhere other than at the power plug’s metal prongs; many of these visits, however, only result in the customers buying another US$80 adapter rather than receiving a free replacement.
As the problem is already known to affect “at least thousands” of users and may well include hundreds of thousands with the exact same issue, the plaintiffs want class action status to represent anyone who may have bought an affected MacBook and have charged Apple with violating California’s business codes as well as breaching the implied and explicit warranties attached to the computers.
Broad, Kitagawa and Reisman want Apple to not only refund any of the associated costs with the known defective products but to warn the public and, if successful, pay punitive damages alongside the expected compensation.
As always, Apple has yet to comment on the lawsuit.

Apple Posts Job Listing for 3G Engineer for Mac Hardware Group, May Bring Additional Functionality to MacBook Line

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Date: Wednesday, May 6th, 2009, 09:45
Category: MacBook, Rumor

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Over the past couple years, 3G has become a common buzzword within the technology industry. The iPhone 3G has it right there in the name, some PC laptops have the functionality built in and Mac notebooks have access to it via third-party add-ons.
Computerworld has reported that Apple is now advertising a new “Communications QA Engineer” position in the Mac Hardware Group at the Cupertino campus.
The posting specifies the job’s description as : “Testing and reporting hardware, software, and device driver bugs for Communications technologies including AirPort (802.11a/b/g/n), Bluetooth v2.0, gigabit Ethernet, and/or 3G Wireless WAN in a detailed, timely manner [emphasis added].”
While it’s not chiseled out in stone, there is the possibility that Apple could be adding 3G functionality to its MacBook notebook line. This could also be in reference to testing that encompasses third-party 3G modems to check for interference with the MacBooks’ other built-in wireless systems.
Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched, but this could be interesting.

Apple and Microsoft Target Smart Shoppers in Marketing Campaigns

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Date: Wednesday, May 6th, 2009, 09:08
Category: Opinion

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By Rachel Hoyer
Who hasn’t seen the ubiquitous Microsoft “laptop hunters” and Apple’s “get a Mac” commercials? Each ad campaign attempts to convince the audience that savvy consumers purchase their brand. Microsoft uses documentary-style commercials where they offer “real” consumers (who are actually actors) a certain amount of money to purchase a new computer. Not surprisingly, each time they select a PC.
According to the testimonials, sticker price is the deciding factor. Microsoft suggests that PCs are far cheaper than a comparable Mac. In other words, the smart shopper purchases a PC. “I guess I’m just not hip enough to buy a Mac,” quips a computer shopper in one ad. The inference is that those who buy Macs are more concerned with image than value or performance.
By comparison, Apple’s ads use actors to personify the two types of computers. New York actor John Hodgman plays the dorky and backwards PC guy (ironically, he reportedly owns a Mac in real life). Whereas, Justin Long, who plays the Mac guy, is hip, organized and forward-thinking. Dialogue between the actors reveals that Appl’s products are easy to use and offer more helpful features than PCs. The implied conclusion is that smart shoppers buy Macs because Macs easily perform tasks that are difficult or impossible to perform on PCs.
Both ad campaigns want the viewer to identify with the core values represented in their commercials. In the case of Microsoft, they’d like you to believe that you’d be a fool to spend more on a Mac when you they offer the same thing for a much better price. Apple insinuates that you’re uninformed if you think the two types of computers are comparable.
There’s some truth to both allegations. It’s accurate that the purchase price of Macs tend to be higher than PCs with similar specifications. Nearly all widely used applications are available on both platforms, including Microsoft Windows. So, why would a smart shopper choose an Apple product? In brief: The value of your time. Thus far, Apple has been far more successful at integrating interface, applications and data. Additionally, as stated in their commercials, Apple is ahead of the trend when it comes to anticipating how consumers actually use their products. They design features to accommodate those needs. Microsoft products require you to constantly tinker with your operating system, including changing settings, fixing compatibility issues, scanning the registry for malware and defragmenting your hard drive. And the list wouldn’t be complete without mention of the extensive troubleshooting required upon encountering the infamous blue screen of death, with which every Microsoft user is familiar.
There’s something to be said for a computer that doesn’t require frequent maintenance. Time is has a monetary value. After spending a certain amount of time fixing your PC, perhaps the Mac becomes a better value after all. In case you’re wondering which kind of computer I own, I’m the kind of consumer who buys a computer based on how I plan to use it rather than marketing, and I expect you are, too.