Mac OS X 10.7 features, release date, App Store-only purchase structure highlighted at WWDC

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Date: Monday, June 6th, 2011, 15:02
Category: News, Software

Ok, this might take a while to go through…

Following up on Apple’s yearly Worldwide Developers Conference which opened today, Apple announced on Monday that Mac OS X 10.7 Lion will be available only in the Mac App Store, and the operating system upgrade will be available for just US$29.99.

Per AppleInsider, a new developer preview of Lion will be available to download today, while the final product will become available to users on the Mac App Store in July. The Mac App Store release of Lion and aggressive pricing of the operating system were both first reported by AppleInsider earlier this year.

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion was demonstrated Monday by Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, and Craig Federighi, head of Mac OS X Software. Together, they demonstrated 10 of the more than 250 new features found in Lion.

The forthcoming operating system features new Multi-Touch gestures and fluid animations built into Lion that allow you to interact directly with content on the screen for a more intuitive way to use your Mac. New gestures include momentum scrolling, tapping or pinching your fingers to zoom in on a web page or image, and swiping left or right to turn a page or switch between full screen apps. All Mac notebooks ship with Multi-Touch trackpads and desktop Macs can use Apple’s Magic Trackpad.

Full screen apps take advantage of the entire display and are perfect for reading email, surfing the web or browsing photos, especially on a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. With a single click your app fills the display and you can swipe from one window to another, between full screen apps, or back to your Desktop, Dashboard or Spaces without ever leaving full screen. iWork and iLife apps, as well as Safari, iTunes, Mail, FaceTime and others, all take advantage of Lion’s system-wide support for full screen apps.

A new Mission Control feature combines Exposé, full screen apps, Dashboard and Spaces into one unified experience for a bird’s eye view of every app and window running on your Mac. With a single swipe, your desktop zooms out to display your open windows grouped by app, thumbnails of your full screen apps and your Dashboard, and allows you to instantly navigate anywhere with a tap.

Similar to Mac OS X 10.6.6 and beyond, the Mac App Store is built into Lion and allows you to buy them with your iTunes account, download and install them. Apps automatically install directly to Launchpad, and with Lion’s release, the Mac App Store will be able to deliver smaller “delta” app updates and new apps that can take advantage of features like In-App Purchase and Push Notifications.

A Launchpad feature allows you to find and launch any app. With a single Multi-Touch gesture, all your Mac apps are displayed in a full screen layout wherein apps can be organized in any order or into folders that can be swiped through to find the one you want.

A redesigned Mail app with a widescreen layout includes a Conversations groups related messages into an easily scrollable timeline, hiding repeated text so the conversation is easy to follow, and retaining graphics and attachments as they were originally sent. A new search feature allows you to refine your search and suggests matches by person, subject and label as you type. Mail includes built-in support for Microsoft Exchange 2010.

Additional new features in Lion include:
- Resume, which conveniently brings your apps back exactly how you left them when you restart your Mac or quit and relaunch an app.

- Auto Save, which automatically and continuously saves your documents as you work.

- Versions, which automatically records the history of your document as you create it, and gives you an easy way to browse, revert and even copy and paste from previous versions.

- AirDrop, which finds nearby Macs and automatically sets up a peer-to-peer wireless connection to make transferring files quick and easy.

The Mac App Store will be built into Lion and will offer in-app purchases and push notifications, just like in iOS. Apple is also adding delta updates, which should make it faster to patch software.

Other features mentioned, but not detailed, include built-in FaceTime, FileVault 2, Windows Migration, Lion Server add-on, Safari Reading list, resize from any edge, Xsan built-in, dictionary lookup smart magnify in Preview, and more.

Mac OS X Lion will be available in July as an upgrade to Mac OS X version 10.6 Snow Leopard from the Mac App Store for US$29.99 (US). Lion will stand as a 4GB download and Mac OS X Lion Server requires Lion and will be available in July from the Mac App Store for US$49.99 (US).

Lion requires an Intel-based Mac with a Core 2 Duo, i3, i5, i7 or Xeon processor and 2GB of RAM. The Lion upgrade can be installed on all your authorized personal Macs.

The Mac OS X Lion Up-To-Date upgrade is available at no additional charge via the Mac App Store to all customers who purchased a qualifying new Mac system from Apple or an Apple Authorized Reseller on or after June 6, 2011. Users must request their Up-To-Date upgrade within 30 days of purchase of their Mac computer. Customers who purchase a qualifying Mac between June 6, 2011 and the date when Lion is available in the Mac App Store will have 30 days from Lion’s official release date to make a request.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iTunes 10.3 public beta, begins to introduce iCloud, re-download feature for purchased content

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Date: Monday, June 6th, 2011, 15:28
Category: iTunes, iTunes Music Store, News, Software

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Literally moments after announcing its new iCloud service, Apple offered a public beta iTunes 10.3, the latest version of its multimedia/jukebox application for Mac OS X. The new version, available at download, offers a new “Purchased” tab for re-downloading software and content at no cost.

Per AppleInsider, the new iTunes also includes the iBookstore for Mac and PC, allowing for “an unabridged browsing and shopping experience.”

Users can also find “Purchased” software in the iOS App Store by selecting the “Updates” tab. From there, in addition to available updates, the “Purchased” section can also be viewed.

The new feature offers a thorough list of all software that has been purchased on the authorized Apple ID signed in on the iOS device. A convenient “Not On this iPhone” tab also allows users to only view applications that are owned, but not currently installed.

Similarly, purchased songs can also be viewed in the iOS iTunes Store application. Content that has been purchased from the iTunes Store can be sorted by artist name, in a list of recent purchases, or a complete list of songs.

All content is presented with a cloud icon, connecting the new functionality with the just-announced iCloud service. While Monday’s quick updates offer a taste of iCloud, the full service (including wireless syncing of content and data on iOS devices such as the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad) will roll out with the launch of iOS 5 this fall.

The functionality of “iTunes in the Cloud” can also be extended to music ripped from a personal CD collection with Apple’s newly announced iTunes Match, available for US$24.99 per year. The new service will match up a user’s personal library of songs with the 18 million high-quality tracks available on the iTunes Store, and that content can also be re-downloaded to multiple devices, like an iPhone or iPad.

If you have any opinion on this, please let us know and we’ll get additional details to you as soon as they become available.

VLC 1.1.10 update released

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Date: Monday, June 6th, 2011, 05:21
Category: News, Software

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Video Lan Client, the nigh-indispensable open source media player for multiple audio and video formats (MPEG, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, Divx, ogg, etc.), was updated to version 1.1.10. The new version, a 43.9 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Security update regarding an integer overflow in xspf demuxer.

- Rewrite of the pulseaudio audio output module.

- Update of libmodplug for security reasons in Windows and Mac versions.

- Major updates in most language translations.

- Removal of the font-cache re-building on the freetype module on Windows.

- Numerous updates and fixes on the interface and look of VLC for Mac OS X.

- Many miscellaneous fixes in decoders, demuxers and subtitles.

- 3rd party libraries updates.

VLC 1.1.10 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, let us know in the comments.

AT&T CEO drops hints at smaller SIM card format

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Date: Monday, June 6th, 2011, 05:50
Category: iPhone, News

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Prior to all the Worldwide Developers Conference hubbub, AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega said in an interview this week with All Things D that a smaller SIM card is a “no-brainer” and his company is looking into it, but declined to make the direct connection to Apple that the France Telecom CEO made last week.

When asked by All Things D’s Ina Fried whether AT&T is interested in the smaller SIM card that Apple and France Telecom have reportedly agreed upon, de la Vega acknowledged that the carrier is “working with the industry” to look at the possibility of smaller SIM cards. “I think that probably will happen,” he said.

In late May, France Telecom CEO Stephane Richard said in an interview that Apple and wireless carriers had reached a compromise to use a smaller SIM card format instead of an embedded SIM chip that Apple had expressed interest in. According to Richard, the next iPhone will be “smaller and thinner,” partially due to a reduction in the SIM card footprint.

Per another executive at Orange, a subsidiary of France Telecom, Apple in May submitted a new requirement for a smaller SIM form factor to a European standards institute. The iPhone 4 and iPad currently utilize a micro-SIM solution.

Like Richard, de la Vega expressed a preference for a smaller SIM card over an embedded SIM. “We think that making the card smaller and shrinking the size is a no-brainer and we should be able to make that happen,” he said, in response to a question about the possibility of an e-SIM.

During the interview, de la Vega expressed disappointment at Windows Phone sales. “We actually like [Windows Phone 7] very, very much,” he said. “It hasn’t sold as well as Microsoft or us would want it to.”

Despite the lackluster sales, the AT&T CEO remained optimistic about Microsoft’s prospects. “I think for the first thing out of the chute it is pretty good,” he said. “I think they just need to make it better… Giving customers more application choices, having a bigger app store with more functionality on the phone–I think that is all that it needs.”

For de la Vega, the iPhone and Google’s Android have been “positive surprises,” while sales of Research in Motion’s devices have dropped off. “Android and Apple are really the hot products right now,” he added, noting that customers have been “choosing other products rather than traditional BlackBerries.”

The executive also challenged tablet makers to continue to raise standards in order to compete with Apple’s iPad. According to de la Vega, all the manufacturers who make smartphones are also offering AT&T tablets. “The question is which ones of those are good enough to stand up to the iPad. That’s a very high bar,” he said.

Speaking at the D9 conference earlier this week, de la Vega confirmed that AT&T is working on a shared data plan that would allow users to pool minutes and data plans between devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.