Rumor: Apple negotiating with content providers, could launch streaming radio service this summer

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Date: Friday, April 5th, 2013, 07:50
Category: Rumor, Software

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There could be some nifty stuff coming down the pipe this summer.

Per CNET, Apple is working to strike deals with both the Warner and Universal Music groups within the week to help add content to its upcoming streaming radio service. Sony would still be one of the major holdouts.

Apple could sign deals with both Warner Music and Universal Music Group within the next week, according to the sources. Both sources cautioned that the deals have not yet been made and could still fall apart. In addition, Apple still needs to get Sony Music Group on board, as well as the music publishers. Even so, Apple has told the labels it’s determined to get all its deals signed in time for a summer rollout. In addition to the U.S., Apple is hoping to quickly unveil the service in up to a dozen territories, according to sources, including the U.K, France, Germany, Australia, and Japan.

While recent reports have pinned the service’s launch for late 2013, CNET said Apple still wants to have a summer launch take place.

The report indicated that Apple is working on functionality such as quick-button-based access to restart a song and new payment terms for record labels. It also alluded to the upcoming service being more Pandora-like than Rdio, suggesting true, radio-like randomization versus play-on-demand audio content.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPhone 5 now available for pre-order through T-Mobile

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Date: Friday, April 5th, 2013, 07:30
Category: iPhone, News, retail

There’s nothing wrong with a good pre-order via an upcoming iPhone carrier.

Per 9to5Mac, customers will be able to order the iPhone 5 on T-Mobile’s newly revamped “un-carrier” unlimited plans for a carrier-exclusive low price.

Along with the low down payment on the pre-order comes a two-year financing plan that totals US$579.99, which is US$70 cheaper than purchasing the phone unlocked. Plans start at US$50 per month for 500MB of high-speed data and throttled data afterward, while US$70 per month gets unlimited high-speed data.

Following the pre-orders this week, all models of the iPhone will be available for immediate purchase on April 12. Customers who purchase a new iPhone 5 through Apple or T-Mobile will be able to take advantage of T-Mobile’s speedy LTE network in markets where it is available, but those who use older AT&T or unlocked iPhone 5 models will need to install an over-the-air update to do so (and won’t get all the AWS HSPA bands without new hardware). T-Mobile also announced that the updated iPhone 5 will receive HD Voice service in a future software upgrade.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple’s OS X 10.8.3 prompts use of discrete GPU in mid-2010 MacBook Pro notebooks

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Date: Thursday, April 4th, 2013, 08:42
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

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There’s sort of a love/hate relationship with operating system updates, especially given the fact that you never quite know what’s going to change with your Apple hardware and how it performs after the fact.

To that end, the mighty Topher Kessler has written a terrific piece over on CNET as to Apple’s latest OS update for its mid-2010 MacBook Pro notebooks.

To this end, a number of the notebook’s owners noticed that after upgrading to OS X 10.8.3, their systems with dual graphics cards would automatically switch to using the more powerful discrete graphics chip regularly, even when using non-graphics intensive applications like Google Chrome, Dropbox, and Growl. This does not result in crashes or other interruptions in workflow, but it does increase the drain on the systems’ battery and result in a shorter working time when not connected to AC power.

The article then moves on to discuss how to ration battery power, how to drop back to OS X 10.7 if necessary and the new challenges for developers under these conditions.

It’s there, it’s good, so take a gander and let us know if you’ve seen anything like this with your mid-2010 MacBook Pro on your end.

Opera web browser updated to 12.15.1748

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Date: Thursday, April 4th, 2013, 07:55
Category: News, security, Software

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It’s hard to knock a useful web browser update.

On Thursday, Opera Software released version 12.15.1748 of its web browser. The new version, a 20.3 megabyte download via MacUpdate, boasts the following fixes and changes:
– Fixed a moderately severe issue, as reported by Attila Suszter; details will be disclosed at a later date.

– Added safeguards against attacks on the RC4 encryption protocol.

– Fixed an issue where cookies could be set for a top-level domain.

Opera 12.15.1748 is available for free and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run.

Recently published Apple patents show possible road to improved pedometer accuracy, possible health accessory

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Date: Thursday, April 4th, 2013, 07:04
Category: News, Patents

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It’s the patent filings that show the useful stuff coming down the road.

Per AppleInsider, three filings published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday reveal Apple is working to improve the accuracy of pedometer readings when implemented in mobile devices, hinting that the company may be planning an entrance into the health accessory industry.

While Apple’s patents (1, 2, 3), each titled “Techniques for improved pedometer readings,” don’t specifically mention a wearable accessory, the technology detailed can easily be applied to such a device. Perhaps most interesting is that Apple filed three separate patent applications describing three different pedometer logging techniques, yet the company has yet to implement a first-party solution or product that leverages such technology.

Each filing looks to solve the same problem: pedometer accuracy. Current devices, even those specifically made to track a user’s steps, are not completely accurate due to hardware and software limitations. Apple’s invention hopes to rectify the situation through intelligent data collection and processing.

The patent applications start out by describing a pedometer, which is a device having motion sensing capabilities, such as a built-in accelerometer or gyroscope, that provides step count, running step count, distance traveled and other metrics. It is pointed out that the device described in some embodiments is not limited to one suitable for step detection, meaning the tech can be applied to smartphones and the like.

Conventional techniques detects steps using acceleration swing over a fixed threshold, but Apple’s invention uses adaptive threshold and frequency filtering to garner more accurate results. Frequency analysis can include fast Fourier transform (FFT) or other algorithms, while distance calibration can apply least squares simple regression, least squares multiple regression, or K-factor.

However, by using fixed threshold techniques, some steps may not be detected due to offsets or shifts in the accelerometer. For example, when a user of the device is running, the average acceleration of the device may be higher due to the greater acceleration of each footstep and the overall faster forward motion. Due to the higher offset of average acceleration during running measurements, some negative slope 88 to positive slope 86 threshold crossings may not be detected. For example, the negative slope 88 to positive slope 86 transition at point 94 in the graphed modulus 52 does not cross the 1 g threshold between peaks 92a and 90a. As a result, while peaks 92a and 90a may actually correspond to two steps (e.g., a left step and a right step), conventional threshold filtering techniques may detect only one step due to the lack of a negative to positive transition (e.g., point 94) crossing below the fixed 1 g threshold.

These methods allow for a finer set of data due that can conform more readily to changes in stride and a user’s personal physical attributes. On that point, a GUI is also implemented into which weight, height and other user specifics can be entered for processing with the given algorithms.

By using these advanced methods, a more accurate assessment of user motion can be tracked, consequently generating more accurate pedometer data.

The language goes on to detail the various algorithms and implementations of adaptive threshold and frequency filtering.

Third-party app makers have indeed created pedometer software that uses data from the iPhone’s built-in sensors to track steps taken and estimated distance traveled, but Apple itself has yet to launch such an asset. Furthermore, the invention seeks to improve upon existing techniques, suggesting the company is planning to implement the tech in a pedometer app, or possibly a wearable device like the much-rumored “iWatch.”

All three applications were filed for in September of 2011 and credit Yash Rohit Modi, Vinay Bethgiri Ganesh Dixit and Saurabh Gupta as their inventors.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Parallels Desktop updated to 8.0.18483

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Date: Thursday, April 4th, 2013, 07:38
Category: iMac, News, Software

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Late Thursday, Parallels released version 8.0.18483 of its Parallels Desktop virtualization software. The new update, a 320 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:
– Better compatibility with new iMacs.

– Create Boot Camp virtual machines on new iMacs with 3 TB hard drives.

– Create virtual machines from the Boot Camp partition with Windows 8 installed.

– Support for Fedora 18.

– Fixed visual artifacts when changing screen resolution in a Windows 8 Pro virtual machine with more than 256 MB of video memory and nested virtualization enabled.

– Resolves an issue with the Command + click combination not opening links in new tabs in Windows browsers (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, etc.).

Parallels Desktop 8 retails for US$79.99 and requires a 64-bit Intel-based processor, Mac OS X 10.6.8 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.

OnyX updated to 2.6.8

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Date: Thursday, April 4th, 2013, 06:08
Category: News, Software

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You can’t knock a helpful update.

OnyX, Titanium Software’s popular freeware multifunction utility for Mac OS X, has been updated to version 2.6.8. The new version, a 16.9 megabyte download via MacUpdate, adds the following fixes and changes:
– Deleting the Internet Cache improved.

– Deleting the Fonts Cache improved.

– Deleting the Recent Items improved.

– Bug corrected in the authenticate pane.

– Bug corrected when restoring the logo of Login window.

– Maintenance > Scripts pane improved.

– Help improved, corrected, and reindexed.

– New option: Show the Displays Extras menu with resolutions.

– New option: Show/hide shadow in window captures.

– New option: Show/hide the Reminders Debug menu.

– New option: Show/hide the Photo Booth Debug menu.

– New option: Lock/unlock the screen of automatically logged in user.

– New option: Show the dark menu bar in fullscreen mode.

– New version of sqlite3.

– Network Link Condition prefs pane updated to version 2.0.

– Misc. minor corrections.

OnyX 2.6.8 requires an Intel-based processor and OS X 10.8 or later to install and run.

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

Rumor: iOS 7 to incorporate overhauled user interface, “flatter” look

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Date: Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013, 08:38
Category: iPhone, Rumor, Software

It’s time to start talking about iOS 7.

Per the mighty John Gruber of Daring Fireball, Senior Vice President of Industrial Design and new head of Human Interface Jony Ive has apparently made noticeable visual tweaks to Apple’s mobile platform. So much so, that “word on the street” has it that iOS engineers are required to put a polarizing filter over their iPhone displays to prevent onlookers from getting a glimpse of the new UI.

The rumor was revealed in a Branch discussion regarding the latest Apple talk, with a number of well-known bloggers airing out their thoughts on what the company has in store for 2013.

Other rumors have stated the new iOS will incorporate a “flatter” look, albeit time will tell what that actually means.

Gruber claims that iOS 7 development is “running behind,” prompting OS X 10.9 engineers to be pulled from their work to lend a hand in getting the mobile OS ready in time for launch.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Adobe releases Lightroom 4.4 update

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Date: Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013, 08:32
Category: News, Software

It’s hard to turn down a useful update.

On Wednesday, Adobe released 4.4 of its Lightroom image editing program. The new version, a 448.1 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:
– This update includes bug fixes, new lens profiles, and support for 25 new cameras including the Canon EOS 1D C, Nikon D7100 and Samsung NX300.

– This release also includes improved support for the X-Trans image sensor in FujiFilm cameras, such as the X-Pro1.

Adobe Lightroom 4.4 retails for US$149.00 and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later to install and run.

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

Amazon releases Cloud Drive app for Mac

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Date: Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013, 06:18
Category: News, Software

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Never doubt the power of competition in the cloud-based market space.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Amazon has introduced file syncing to its Cloud Drive app for OS X, which essentially makes Cloud Drive Amazon’s version of Dropbox.

Like Dropbox, the app allows files put into the Cloud Drive folder to be available on any Mac or Windows machine running Cloud Drive with your login details. The files are also available through any web browser.

Cloud Drive users receive 5 GB of storage space for free, which is equal to Google Drive’s initial offering but more than double Dropbox’s 2 GB of storage for new users.

The app is available as a free download and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

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