Apple adds four additional cities to iOS 6 3D mapping app

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Date: Tuesday, August 7th, 2012, 09:19
Category: iPhone, News, Software

The new Maps app for iOS 6: it’s becoming nifty.

Per AppleInsider, Apple expanded the capabilities of Maps in iOS 6 with Monday’s release of the beta number four, adding a U.S., Canadian and European cities to those with “flyover” 3D data.

In preparation of rolling out its newest mobile operating system, Apple has updated its Maps app to include so-called “flyover” data for a number of major cities worldwide, including Philadelphia, Manchester and Toronto.

It should be noted that Apple has yet to include New York as one of the 3D-capable cities, possibly over terrorism concerns.

Apple announced at WWDC 2012 that it would be ditching Google Maps for its own proprietary mapping service borne out of a 2011 acquisition of Swedish 3D mapping company C3 Technologies, a spin-off from Saab’s AB defense arm. A recent side-by-side comparison between 3D maps created in iOS 6 and the new function in Google Maps gave a slight edge to Apple’s solution in terms of resolution and rendering speed.

The new iOS 6 Maps app will feature TomTom-powered turn-by-turn navigation with integrated Siri support, Yelp recommendations and vector-based mapping for fast 2D rendering.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Sprint reduces iPhone 4S price to $149, rumors of next-gen iPhone release, Apple special event fly

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Date: Tuesday, August 7th, 2012, 06:55
Category: iPhone, News

You’ve got to love competition, price cuts and the promise of a next-gen iPhone on the horizon.

Per All Things D, U.S. wireless carrier Sprint has cut the price of Apple’s current iPhone 4S to US$149 and is waiving activation fees for the handset ahead of a rumored Apple special event that may see the launch of a next-generation iPhone.

The new $149 price tag showed up on Sprint’s website over the weekend and represents a US$50 savings not including the US$36 activation fee waiver.

The new pricing comes ahead of a rumored special event Apple is said to be planning for Sept. 12, where many expect the company to launch the sixth-generation iPhone and possibly a smaller 7-inch iPad.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 6 beta 4, removes YouTube app in newest developer version

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Date: Tuesday, August 7th, 2012, 06:30
Category: iOS, iPhone, News, Software

Apple on Monday afternoon released the 4th beta of iOS 6 to developers and in the process appears to have nixed the inclusion of the once-standard YouTube app in what appears to be an escalation of tensions between the company and rival Google.

Per AppleInsider, upon installing the release, sources familiar with the software confirm that the Apple-developed YouTube app is no longer part of the distribution — potentially a sign of increased tensions between the two companies which are facing off against each other in both the mobile and connected television segments.

Google owns YouTube.

Update: in a statement issued yesterday, Apple offered the following:

“Our license to include the YouTube app in iOS has ended, customers can use YouTube in the Safari browser and Google is working on a new YouTube app to be on the App Store.”

At the release of the original iPhone in 2007, Apple partnered with Google to develop a native, bundled YouTube app for the iPhone that would allow users to access Google’s vast library of user-created videos.

Without work on Google’s side to make those videos available using the open H.264 codec, its YouTube videos would not have worked with the iPhone because Google’s player and distribution formats were tied to Adobe Flash, a software platform that wasn’t functional on smartphones and wouldn’t be made available by Adobe in a partially-usable form until 2010, and then only on brand new hardware powerful enough to run it.

Because of the proprietary nature of Flash, Apple would have been severely constrained in any of its efforts to create an in-house compatibility layer to support it. It would also have required significant resources and introduced new limitations on Apple’s iOS.

Rather than taking on the nearly impossible task of supporting Flash on 2007-era mobile devices, Apple decided to instead provide alternative workarounds that minimized the feature loss of not having Flash available.

Because the primary valuable uses of Flash revolved around simple web site animations and video playback, Apple focused on providing rich support for advanced HTML techniques and began promoting Flash-free, direct H.264 video playback, two features that became prominent capabilities of HTML 5.

After initially supporting YouTube playback on the iPhone, Apple TV and later the iPad by converting its huge library to enable raw H.264 video downloads, Google began an attack on the H.264 standard because it incorporated licensed technologies that put it at odds with free software advocates in the open source community, particularly Mozilla.

Google acquired its own proprietary codec (renaming it WebM) and made the specification “open” in the sense of requiring no licensing fees to use it. However, the MPEG Licensing Authority, the standards body behind H.264, insisted that Google’s new specification infringed upon the technical patent portfolio already developed by the global community for H.264.

Concerns around the legal legitimacy and infringement risks of Google’s own WebM codec, as well as the codec’s serious technical shortcomings (including a lack of mobile hardware acceleration support) has caused it to fail to gain any serious traction in the market since, even despite Google’s removal of H.264 playback support from its Chrome web browser.

Over the last five years, Apple’s support for HTML 5 and H.264 video has made both open standards (one freely licensed, the other requiring licensing from the MPEG LA) the new foundations of web development. This is particularly the case in the global market for mobile devices, about half of which are now produced by Apple.

Adobe has canceled Flash development on mobile devices, and its middleware platform is now becoming increasingly irrelevant on the web as HTML 5 takes over more and more features formerly served by Flash. After YouTube’s switch to serving H.264, other prominent video distributors followed suit, to the point where most of the world’s web videos do not require Flash to work, an unbelievable scenario back in 2007.

At this point, iOS doesn’t need a special app to access YouTube videos, and as Apple indicated in its comment to the media, Google has terminated its license to access YouTube videos natively, rather than via Google’s website.

While Apple no longer needs to direct attention to YouTube videos in a special iOS app, the removal of its YouTube app sends a strong message when combined with other, related efforts Apple has made to exclude Google from its once intimate position on Apple’s iOS platform.

New “Share Sheets” Apple introduced for iOS 6 and this summer’s OS X Mountain Lion specifically support Google’s YouTube competitor site Vimeo, but not YouTube.

Apple has also added support for Yahoo’s Flickr photo site but not Google’s Picassa, and has added or announced new social link features for Twitter and Facebook, but conspicuously not Google’s own competing services Buzz and Google+.

One of the most significant features of iOS 6 is Apple’s new Maps, which erases its former support for Google’s mapping services and establishes Apple’s own in-house services in their place.

Apple’s new Maps app for iOS 6 (below) similarly avoids any support for Google’s Places, instead partnering with Yelp, and makes no effort to incorporate Google’s Latitude location sharing, having introduced Apple’s own device location and Find My Friends services tied to iCloud.

Apple’s removal or lack of support for Google’s services (particularly given the support of its competitor’s) is apparently an intentional distancing effort Apple has initiated as a response to Google’s increasingly intense competitive efforts, which include Google’s Android software platform, legal efforts to challenge Apple’s infringement complaints with offensive use of standards essential patents through Google’s new Motorola subsidiary, and most recently, efforts to take on the iPad and Apple TV with Google-branded hardware devices.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve gotten your mitts on the new iOS 6 beta, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

AT&T to begin offering shared data plans starting August 23

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Date: Monday, August 6th, 2012, 09:17
Category: iPhone, News

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Competition’s a good thing.

Wireless carrier AT&T said Monday that it will join rival Verizon Wireless later this month in offering shared data plans to its subscribers, allowing them to spread their monthly data plans across multiple devices for an additional fee.

Per AppleInsider, the previously announced plans, dubbed “Mobile Share,” include unlimited text, talk and a pre-set data plan for a single device at a fixed price. Additional devices can then be added to share the data plan for between US$10 and US$30, depending on the type of device.

For instance, a 4GB iPhone data plan (US$40) with Unlimited Talk & Text (US$70) and an additional iPad (US$10) will run US$120 per month, while a 10GB iPhone data plan ($30) with Unlimited Talk & Text (US$70) (US$120) and an additional MacBook Pro (US$20) will fetch US$210 per month.

AT&T says that subscribers can adopt the new plan without modifying their contract but says subscribers must tie the plan to an active smartphone subscription, meaning the shared data plans won’t be available for purchase without voice and text.

Unlike Verizon, however, the carrier says it plans to continue offering its existing mobile plans to customers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Picture: MacBook Pros galore helped Curiosity get to Mars

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Date: Monday, August 6th, 2012, 06:06
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Pictures

By the time I graduated from high school in 1996, I was one of two people in my school routinely carrying a notebook computer through the halls of Providence Country Day in East Providence, Rhode Island. I carried a PowerBook 150 and one of my best friends, Josh Ledgard, carried a white Toshiba notebook that he had named “Herbie”.

It was also around this time that Apple was at its lowest point, Steve Jobs had yet to officially return in any capacity and people wondered aloud if Apple would die and why I didn’t carry a Windows PC notebook?

A picture’s worth a thousand words, ladies and gentlemen, and via the extremely cool cats at 9to5 Mac, there’s the following killer picture of not just a few MacBook Pro notebooks helping to land Curiosity on Mars last night:



And yes, I know some of them may have booted Linux or Windows partitions at the time, so that joke still stands…

Happy Curiosity Day, guys!!!

Parallels Desktop updated to 7.0.15106

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Date: Monday, August 6th, 2012, 05:09
Category: News, Software

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On Thursday, Parallels released version 7.0.15106 of its Parallels Desktop virtualization software. The new update, a 306 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Resolves an issue with installing Parallels Desktop in Mac OS X Leopard 10.5 or later.

- Resolves an issue with opening third-party virtual machines in Parallels Desktop.

- Resolves an issue with managing Mac computers running OS X Mountain Lion via Parallels Mobile.

- The power saving option is now available for new MacBook Pros (mid 2012) and MacBook Pros with Retina display.

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.

Carbon Copy Cloner updated to 3.5.1

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Date: Friday, August 3rd, 2012, 12:38
Category: News, Software

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On Saturday, Carbon Copy Cloner, the shareware favorite for drive cloning operations by Mike Bombich, reached version 3.5.1. The new version, an 8.6 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Fixed an issue in which CCC was unable to save scheduled tasks after being updated.

- Resolved a permissions issue related to accessing some files on source when the destination was a network volume.

- Made some minor UI adjustments in the Documentation window.

- Fixed an intermittent exception at the end of a scheduled task that would result in the “Task finished” window disappearing early and failure of email notifications.

- Fixed an exception that would cause a hang during the creation of a Recovery HD volume.

- Non-admin users will no longer be prompted to authenticate when launching CCC on Lion or Mountain Lion. This authentication was leveraged to collect information about the Recovery HD volumes attached to your Mac, but CCC was unable to give that indication prior to the authentication dialog being presented. To avoid unnecessary concern, we chose to not collect that information when a user is logged in to a non-admin account.

- When LateNite Software’s “Clusters” software makes changes to .DS_Store files on the source volume, those changes can lead to errors during the backup. These errors are now suppressed.

Carbon Copy Cloner 3.5.1 retails for a US$39.95 shareware registration fee. The application requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later.

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

Users complain of shorter battery life after Mountain Lion install, Apple reportedly launching investigation of issue

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Date: Friday, August 3rd, 2012, 12:15
Category: battery, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Software

This is either the end of the world or a firmware update that may need to happen.

Per AppleInsider, a number of MacBook Pro and MacBook Air owners who updated to the recently-released OS X Mountain Lion are complaining of battery performance issues, with some reporting their batteries only last half as long as when OS X 10.7 Lion was installed.

Since the first complaints surfaced in an Apple Support Communities thread started on July 25, the day Mountain Lion launched, the number of reportedly affected MacBook Pro and MacBook Air owners has grown to the point where Apple has supposedly initiated an investigation. As of this writing the thread, titled “Battery life dropped considerably on Mountain Lion” now stands at 15 pages.

While most users are seeing battery life drops of about one to two hours, some cases claim performance has fallen to less than 50 percent as their machines are only capable of staying on for a little over two hours.

Community members have been trying a variety of methods to remedy the issue, from re-installing the software to turning off some of Mountain Lion’s new features like Power Nap, but the attempts have yet to produce a fool-proof solution. Some members have seen limited success in resetting the machine’s system management controller (SMC), though the battery issue crops up again after continued use.

Many users are reporting heightened CPU temperatures even when the machine is at idle, possibly pointing to a backend program management problem, while others are seeing battery drain when the system is sleeping.

Apple has taken notice of the complaints and, according to one community member, sent out a questionnaire on Friday in an attempt to pinpoint the problem.

OS X Mountain Lion launched last week, bringing with it over 200 new features including tighter iCloud integration, the Messages app, Notification Center, Facebook integration, Dictation, AirPlay Mirroring and Game Center.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

And, as always, if you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know in the comments.

Guide: How to troubleshoot PowerNap weirdness under OS X 10.8

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Date: Friday, August 3rd, 2012, 11:13
Category: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News

There’s been a lot written about OS X 10.8′s new PowerNap feature, wherein your 2011-2012 MacBook Air and 2012 Retina Display MacBook Pro notebooks can perform various background tasks (such as synchronization and updates) while in Sleep mode, but it’s hard to say what to do when things go wrong.

With that in mind, the mighty Topher Kessler has written a spiffy PowerNap troubleshooting guide over on CNET.

Go.

Take a gander.

Check it out.

And even though the guide goes through the somewhat frightening steps as to how to reset your notebook’s SMC should circumstances require it, it’s worth reading.

That is all and enjoy your Friday.

Apple Store for iOS updated to 2.3, adds new shopping features

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Date: Friday, August 3rd, 2012, 07:24
Category: News, Software

It’s not the most exciting news in the world, but it’s sort of a helpful update.

On Friday, Apple released version 2.3 of its Apple Store app for iOS. The new version, a 5.6 megabyte download via iTunes, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Now get the option to have Pages, Keynote and Numbers pre-installed on any MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac or Mac Pro.

- Performance enhancements to make it easier to shop for Apple products on the go.

The Apple Store app is available for free and requires an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad running iOS 5.0 or later.

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