Virgin Mobile to offer prepaid wireless plan for iPhone in July

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Date: Tuesday, June 5th, 2012, 14:16
Category: iPhone, News

No one ever said that prepaid was out of vogue.

Per MarketWatch, Sprint’s Virgin Mobile USA will become the second American carrier to offer Apple’s iPhone without a service contract, according to a new report.

Virgin Mobile’s addition of the iPhone to its product lineup will be announced later this week. The iPhone will debut on Virgin Mobile as soon as July 1.

The deal could go toward the US$15.5 billion in iPhones Sprint has committed to sell over a four-year span. The company pledged to buy the iPhones last year in a deal that brought the iPhone to Sprint, which is the third-largest carrier in the U.S.

Last week, it was announced that Cricket Wireless would become the first prepaid carrier to sell a contract-free iPhone in the U.S. on June 22. Cricket will offer the 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S for US$500 along with an “unlimited” US$55-per-month plan.

But Cricket will only sell the iPhone in smaller markets where the brand is available, while Virgin would make the iPhone more widely available to prepaid customers. The Virgin service, which uses Sprint’s network, covers 278 million people.

The price for a prepaid iPhone through Virgin was not revealed, but the carrier has prepaid plans that begin at US$35 a month for “unlimited” capped data. Tuesday’s report said it was “unclear” whether the iPhone would be compatible with those plans.

Apple began expanding the iPhone to regional carriers last October with C Spire wireless, while more were added in April and again in May of this year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Parallels Desktop updated to 7.0.15095

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Date: Tuesday, June 5th, 2012, 14:21
Category: News, Software

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On Thursday, Parallels released version 7.0.15095 of its Parallels Desktop virtualization software. The new update, a 306 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Support for Windows 8 Release Preview (experimental).


- Download and install Windows 8 Release Preview right from the Parallels Wizard.

Parallels Desktop 7 retails for US$79.99 and requires a 64-bit Intel-based processor, Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later, 2GB of RAM (4GB recommended to run Windows 7), at least 700 MB of space available on the boot volume for Parallels Desktop installation and 15 GB of available disk space for Windows.

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

Apple TV 5.0.2 update goes live

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Date: Tuesday, June 5th, 2012, 13:28
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

Apple on Tuesday updated its Apple TV software to version 5.0.2 for second and third generation units.

Per AppleInsider, the Apple TV Software Update, released as build 9B830, brings unknown fixes to both the second and third generation set-top media streamers. Apple’s support web page has yet to divulge the contents of the update, but a more detailed description should be posted in the near future.

The quick download showed no visible changes to the UI or content meaning that the update may be a fix for backend performance issues or preparation for as-yet unreleased features set to be announced at WWDC next week.

To install the new 5.0.2 version on your Apple TV, navigate to the “Update Software” menu option under Settings > General.

If you’ve tried the new version and noticed any differences, please let us know in the comments.

And if anything caught fire or the dog proposed to the cat as a result of the 5.0.2 update, please let us know in the comments.

Belkin previews Thunderbolt Express Dock, offers September release date

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Date: Tuesday, June 5th, 2012, 07:50
Category: Hardware, News

Thunderbolt came out last year, now it’s time for the nifty peripherals.

Per Engadget, Belkin is showing off new upgrades to its Thunderbolt Express Dock even before it’s hit store shelves. The new upgrade brings three USB 3.0 ports, ditching the aging USB 2.0 ports that were shown off in the version at this year’s CES. An eSata port was also added, bringing a significant US$100 price hike on the updated version, making it US$399.

Overall, the Thunderbolt Express Dock features 3 USB 3.0 ports, 1 FireWire 800 port, 1 Gigabit Ethernet port, 1 eSata port, 1 3.5mm-out port, 1 3.5mm-in port, 2 Thunderbolt ports (1 upstream, 1 downstream for daisy-chaining up to 6 additional Thunderbolt devices), and a MiniDP to HDMI Adapter. Additionally, Belkin announced a US$44.99 Thunderbolt cable that is 3-feet long and can daisy chain up to six devices. Yesterday, Matrox announced a Thunderbolt dock priced at US$249, and while it doesn’t have as many ports, it is a lot cheaper — and looks more retro.



Perhaps most importantly, Belkin also offers another Thunderbolt port so you can daisy chain up-to six more Thunderbolt parts to your rig. The Dock launches in September, while the cable launches in July.

In other Thunderbolt news, Drobo has teased new Thunderbolt-powered arrays that are set to be shown off at this year’s Computex. With Thunderbolt, Drobo says it has the “potential to provide a 10x increase in performance.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Purported next-gen 13-inch MacBook specs image excludes Retina Display

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Date: Tuesday, June 5th, 2012, 06:18
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, Rumor

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You might not be too enamored with this.

Per Macotakara, an image claiming to show specifications for an unreleased 13-inch MacBook Pro shows the notebook equipped with an Ivy Bridge processor and USB 3.0 ports, but without a high-resolution Retina display.

The image could easily have been faked. Even so, the questionable image shows hardware specifications as they would usually appear on the box of an Apple notebook.

The image claims the computer will feature a 2.5 gigahertz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with 3 megabytes of L3 cache and Turbo Boost up to 3.1 gigahertz. It also features 4 gigabytes of 1600 megahertz DDR3 SDRAM, a 500 gigabyte 5400-rpm hard drive, and the new Intel HD Graphics 4000 found in the latest Ivy Bridge processors.



The purported specifications also show the MacBook Pro with a 13.3-inch LED backlit glossy widescreen display with a resolution of just 1,280 by 800 pixels. That resolution would not qualify as an Apple-branded Retina display, as the company is expected to debut new MacBook Pros with higher resolution screens at next week’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

In addition to having a traditional spinning hard drive, the list of features also suggests the 13-inch MacBook Pro will have an 8x slot-loading SuperDrive for CDs and DVDs. Apple’s next MacBook Pros are instead expected to be a significant redesign that will ditch the optical drive for a thinner design like the MacBook Air.

However, the alleged MacBook Pro update does feature two high-speed USB 3.0 ports, in addition to a Thunderbolt port, SDXC card slot, and FireWire 800 port.

The size and weight shown on the spec sheet has the MacBook Pro sized at 12.78 by 8.94 by 0.95 inches and 4.5 pounds. Those are identical to the current 13-inch MacBook Pro sold by Apple.

If legitimate, it’s possible the specifications could show a low-end 13-inch MacBook Pro that Apple intends to release. That model could lack some of the features of the higher end models, like a thinner design and Retina display.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to transition from Google Maps to its own solution for iOS later this year

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Date: Tuesday, June 5th, 2012, 06:15
Category: iPhone, Rumor, Software

You’ll get from point A to point B, just via Apple’s way of doing it.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple has made plans to break from Google Maps and use its own technology for the native Maps app on iOS later this year and could announce the feature at next week’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

Present and former Apple employees revealed to The Wall Street Journal that the Cupertino, Calif., company is set to bump Google’s maps service from its mobile OS. Apple would instead “release a new mapping app that runs Apple’s own technology,” the report said.

One source suggested that Apple may show off the new software at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco next week. The company is reportedly looking to convince third-party application developers to implement its technology into their offerings.

The report went on to note that, according to tipsters at Apple, the plan to oust Google Maps has been in motion for years. The rapid rise of Android sales is believed to have quickened the pace of Apple’s plans.

The iPhone maker’s mapping intentions have been evident since at least 2009, when the company began acquiring mapping technology companies. The iPhone maker bought Placebase that year and then Poly9 in 2010. Last year, Apple bought Swedish 3D-mapping company C3.

The company also revealed last April that it was collecting data for a crowd-sourced “improved traffic service” for iPhone users. Given that the revelation came as a result of a location data controversy, Apple’s comments have been taken as referring to street traffic, though the company declined to provide further details.

Small steps have been taken to gradually wean iOS off Google Maps. In 2010, Apple notified U.S. senators that, beginning with iOS 3.2, it had begun relying on “its own databases” for location-based services and diagnostic purposes. In March, it was discovered that Apple had switched to OpenStreetMaps for the maps in its iPhoto iOS app.

Apple’s reported switch comes as location services are quickly attracting a significant percentage of advertising dollars. According to the Journal, Opus Research projects map- or location-related ads will comprise 25 percent of the estimated US$2.5 billion that will be spent on mobile ads this year. However, the report suggested that Apple’s move isn’t just about the money.

“But more than ad revenue, Apple is going after the map market to have more control over a key asset in the widening smartphone war,” the report read, noting that 90 percent of American iPhone owners use Google Maps. “So Apple believes controlling the mapping experience and offering features that Google doesn’t have can help sell more devices and entice developers to build unique apps for iPhone users.”

The maps issue has taken on greater importance as the relationship between Apple and Google has become increasingly complicated. The two companies were close partners for years, but have grown apart as they have become fierce competitors in several key markets, such as smartphones, tablets and advertising.

According to the report, Apple became concerned in 2008 that Google may have been compromising user privacy with its map program. Google executives, on the other hand, reportedly felt Apple was being too controlling. The Mountain View, Calif., search company is believed to have angered Apple leaders by withholding the Street View and turn-by-turn navigation features. Its demands were for better branding within the app and incorporation of its Latitude service, which Apple was unwilling to integrate.

The disagreement served as the impetus for Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ search for acquisitions to build out the company’s own mapping team, the report noted. The group from Poly9 allegedly became a secretive “geo” team within Apple. The employees were said to have built a new geocoder to replace Google’s own and began using it last fall.

Google hasn’t been sitting still either, though. Last week, the company sent out invites for an event that will show off the “next dimension of Google Maps.” The wording of the invite has prompted speculation that the company will announce new 3D features for its mapping service. The event comes just days before Apple kicks off its WWDC confab on June 11.

A bevy of reports have claimed that Apple will take the wraps off a new 3D mapping technology at WWDC. Last month, one report cited sources as saying the solution would “blow your head off.”

Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu said last week that his research points to the unveiling of a “greatly enhanced” Maps application with 3D capability next week. The new service has reportedly been developed in-house.

“We hear the key reason why AAPL decided to do this is that it believes it can deliver a much better use experience in Maps, not to mention provide further differentiation for its mobile devices business,” Wu said.

Apple is also expected to showcase new Macs, iOS 6 and new camera and photo apps at the conference.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.