Apple purchases swedish firm AlgoTrim, snags image, video compression assets for mobile devices

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Date: Wednesday, August 28th, 2013, 07:49
Category: Finance, News

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The Apple shopping spree continues.

Per Rapidus.se and TechCrunch, Apple has purchased a Swedish firm called AlgoTrim for an undisclosed price. The small company specializes in image and video, specifically JPEG, compression techniques on mobile devices which allow faster processing of images on power-constrained mobile devices.

AlgoTrim develops advanced solutions for mobile devices within the fields of data compression, mobile imaging and video, and computer graphics.

These solutions are designed to excel in terms of high performance and small memory requirements, making them ideal for mobile devices. Many solutions offered by AlgoTrim are codecs that are the fastest on the market, for example, the lossless codec for general data compression and the imaging codecs.

Apple could use these codecs in its camera and image viewing and manipulation apps on iOS. It is probable that the cost of picking up the company and owning the technology outweighed the cost of licensing the technology over its hundreds of millions of devices. This also could be an “aquihire”.

Apple is no stranger to the Swedish technology market. It picked up Polar Rose in 2010, a face recognition company and C3, a Swedish 3D mapping company in the run up to its Maps product launch. Cupertino has been on a bit of a startup binge lately buying such companies as Embark and Matcha.tv.

Last year, AlgoTrim reported a revenue of US$3.0 million, with an net income before taxes of EUR -1.1 million. Until now, AloTrim has been focused mostly on Android development.

As of now, the acquisition has been confirmed to TechCrunch, Apple offering the following quote:

“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple TV update closes security hole, prevents PlexConnect client from working

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Date: Wednesday, August 28th, 2013, 06:56
Category: Apple TV, News

The update didn’t go exactly as planned.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog and MacRumors, the Apple TV update yesterday that added five new channels to the set-top box. However, the also prevents the PlexConnect streaming media client from running on the Apple TV. Released in June, PlexConnect allowed Apple TV users to view stored movies on remote servers right through Apple’s device without a hack. However, with yesterday’s update, PlexConnect has been blocked:

“The client, called PlexConnect, used a hack to get video from the Plex Media Server onto the Apple TV. A small Python program on the Mac intercepted DNS requests from the Movie Trailers app on the Apple TV and instead returned a custom XML feed that delivered a list of media and movie streams to the device.

Now, however, Apple has closed the loophole. Previously, the Trailers app used regular HTTP requests and the PlexConnect app intercepted those requests. Now, the Trailers app uses HTTPS and it is likely impossible for the Plex programmers to overcome it.”

Plex’s developers stated that they’re sorry to hear Apple has blocked PlexConnect and can only hope that Apple will eventually release an official Apple TV SDK so developers can make apps with Apple’s blessing.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Parallels Access debuts, brings Parallels features to iPad

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Date: Wednesday, August 28th, 2013, 06:28
Category: iOS, iPad, News, Software

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You can’t knock a company that also goes in a subscription-based direction.

Per AppleInsider, Parallels, the company known for its virtualization software, rolled out a new iPad app and subscription service on Tuesday called Parallels Access that promises to run both Mac and PC programs on Apple’s tablet with near-native performance.

With Parallels Access, the company has built a completely new way to naturally interact with desktop applications on an iPad. A number of developers have fielded similar apps that promise full remote control functionality from Apple’s tablet, but many resort to clunky interfaces that draw users out of the “iPad experience.”

Unlike other apps, Access offers the full gamut of iPad gestures, with taps, swipes and pinches all supported by almost any desktop program. To bridge the gap between computer and tablet, the system translates mouse clicks and movement into iPad-friendly gestures.

Parallels claims its new product can handle a variety of tasks, including business programs, streaming video and even games. Internet speeds are supposedly a non-factor, though degradation may be expected when connecting over cellular networks.

The system is actually split into two parts: the iOS app and a Mac or PC client that runs on the host computer. Access authenticates via a Parallels account and links the two devices with a 256-bit AES secured SSL connection.

At the heart of Access is the App Launcher, which is basically a Springboard-like layout of compatible desktop applications. Programs can be added or deleted from this view in much the same way as iOS.

The App Switcher seamlessly moves users between programs, a necessary tool since Access only works in “full screen” mode. Parallels calls this method “applifying.”

Navigating within running programs is an intuitive experience thanks to the combination of SmartTap and the iOS magnifying glass. SmartTap is a contextual cursor control that, in tandem with magnifying glass, allows users to perform advanced mouse actions like drag and drop.

One difficult maneuver that many VNC and other remote desktop apps have trouble with is scrolling. Access’ gesture translation engine doesn’t appear to suffer from the same problems, making in-window navigation less of a chore.

The app’s keyboard is also tweaked from the standard iOS version, offering users dedicated keys for functions, arrows, and even the “Windows” button.

Those interested can try Parallels Access for free for 14 days on a Mac and 90 days on a Windows machine. Subscription pricing is set at US$79.99 per year for each computer running a registered client. The iPad app and Mac or PC clients can be downloaded for free from the App Store and Parallels’ webpage, respectively.