Apple patent looks towards “gifting” iTunes media via NFC

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, August 15th, 2013, 06:19
Category: News, Patents, Software

gift-box-icon

With any luck, you’ll be able to give iTunes media as gifts.

Or, even more conveniently than you do now.

Per AppleInsider and the United States Patent and Trademark Office, an Apple patent application was published on Thursday for a system that allows users to “gift” media content from iTunes and their own library to other iOS device owners, with the transaction facilitated by near-field communication.

The lengthy patent filing, titled “Media gifting devices and methods,” is a fairly straightforward invention that could may have greater implications as to how iOS device users purchase and consume digital content.

At the heart of the invention is gifting, or the simple idea of purchasing a song, e-book or video to give to another person. The document describes two main modes of giving gifts: purchasing media directly from the iTunes store, or sending a copy of already owned media to another device.

Apple already has systems in place for gifting digital media with the iTunes store app, while Passbook-redeemable gift cards can be purchased with the Apple Store app.

Currently, there is no way to gift a piece of owned media directly from one device to another through iTunes.

Thursday’s patent application outlines a number of techniques that iOS device owners can use to give gifts provided by iTunes, all of which involve digital rights management (DRM) and authentication keys. The system is similar to Apple’s established giving methods in that one user purchases a gift and sends it to another person, but instead of using email, a gifter can transfer the purchase to the giftee over NFC.

The first step of a transaction originating from the iTunes Store occurs when the gifter selects an item they want to give away, such as a song. In one embodiment, the next step authorizes a gift charge to be placed on the gifter’s iTunes account, which the recipient will redeem for the associated file.

Downloads in this scenario are handled by the iTunes server, which checks the recipient’s authorization key before pushing out a gift. In some cases, the download will begin automatically, though the invention allows for recipients to retrieve the file at a later time.

The second, and arguably more interesting, of the two scenarios is the gifting of an already-owned media file.

Here, Apple again employs a method of authentication via a central server to determine what can and can’t be downloaded by a recipient device. For example, a gifter can send a copy of a song currently playing on their device by tapping a user interface button. The operations performed after the gift purchase fork into two separate actions.

In one instance, the gifter’s device sends a request to the server for a charge to be placed on their account for a given song. The giftee transfers an authentication notification to the recipient’s phone, which then has permission to download the song from iTunes.

Alternatively, if Internet access is unavailable, the gifter can send a locked version of the media file via NFC to a giftee’s device, along with a DRM or authentication code to be redeemed when network access is reestablished. Both devices will communicate with the server, and the purchase will be deducted from the gifter’s account, while the recipient will have the media file unlocked. Another option when offline is to send just the key without the associated file, which can later be used to download the song.

Also noted are various operations to ensure proper transmission of authorization and DRM keys, including checks with a central server for both gifter and giftee, purchase acceptance codes sent via NFC, and other safeguards.

Finally, the patent filing adds that a number of attachments, such as photos and audio messages, can be sent along with the gift.

It is unknown if Apple will roll out a gifting feature in a subsequent version of iOS, but the service could be a boon for iTunes and content providers as users would have yet another well-implemented media purchasing system to choose from.

Apple’s media gifting patent application was first filed for in 2013 and credits Gloria Lin, Amir Mahood Mikhak, Taido Lantz Nakajima, Sean Anthony Mayo, Michael Rosenblatt and Andrew Hodge as its inventors.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases AirPort Base Station Firmware Update 7.6.4

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, August 14th, 2013, 08:47
Category: News, Software, wireless

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This might help out.

Per The Mac Observer, Apple released AirPort Base Station Firmware Update 7.6.4 on Tuesday, a maintenance release for the company’s line of Wi-Fi routers that squashes three bugs. One affects Apple’s Time Capsule models, another deals with IPv6 issues, and a third fixes iOS device connectivity.

This update is available for all Apple 802.11n Wi-Fi base stations including AirPort Express, AirPort Extreme, and AirPort Time Capsule. It contains fixes that:
– Resolve an issue that may cause AirPort Time Capsule to report that the backup disk is in use.

– Resolve an issue that may cause an IPv6 Tunnel error.

– Resolve an issue that may intermittently cause a loss in Wi-Fi connectivity with iOS devices.

Note: This firmware update is for all 802.11n AirPort base stations.

Users can find the update in AirPort Utility on their Macs. The update may show up immediately in the form of a dialog box. If not, you can click Edit within AirPort Utility and look for the Update button.

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

02 reveals UK pricing tiers ahead of long-anticipated 4G LTE network launch

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, August 14th, 2013, 07:52
Category: iPhone, News

If you’re over on the other side of the pond, this might be useful.

Per iMore, UK wireless carriers are about to turn on their 4G LTE networks on the same day of August 29th. O2 has released their price structure, and confirmed that the tariffs will begin at £26 per month on a SIM-only basis:

O2’s 4G SIM only packages start at £26 for 1GB of data and go up to £36 a month for 5GB of data. If customers need additional data, they will be contacted about bolt-ons, which will be available at £6 for 500MB and £10 for 1GB.

O2 is offering a minimum of 1GB of data on all their 4G LTE tariffs, but until October 31 the carrier will be offering extra data on top of the regular allowance for the duration of the contract. £27 usually gets a 3GB allowance but will be boosted to 5GB, and for £32 the 5GB limit gets increased to 8GB.

Initially iPhone owners will be out of luck, since O2’s 4G LTE is incompatible with the current UK iPhone 5. However, with an event just around the corner on September 10, and an anticipated hardware launch well before the October 31 special offer cut-off, there’s a good chance to get a deal on the next iPhone.

If you’re in the UK and can offer any feedback on this, let us know.

Apple purchases content aggregator Matcha.tv, may be planning new features for Apple TV services

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, August 14th, 2013, 07:55
Category: Apple TV, Finance, News, Software

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It’s the acquisitions that point to interesting stuff on the horizon.

Per All Things D and VentureBeat, Apple has acquired a small startup called Matcha.tv, which provided a second-screen iOS app connected to various content outlets like cable TV, Internet streams and digital storefronts.

Citing sources familiar with the story, VentureBeat reports that Apple acquired Matcha.tv for an estimated US$1 million to US$1.5 million. As part of the agreement, the firm’s founders will be assimilated into Apple’s team for at least two years.

Shuttered in May, Matcha.tv was an aggregator for content from popular streaming sites, cable TV and digital video stores. The erstwhile app supported Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, iTunes and cable networks like Comcast, among others.

In addition to arranging content, users were able to manage viewed content and receive recommendations for future viewing. A social networking element was also included in-app to generate recommended media and provide a form of interactivity.

While Apple has yet to implement any of the firm’s technology into the Apple TV, the buyout suggests the company could have something brewing for an upcoming software update or even a new product.

Apple has become increasingly interested in expanding its “beloved hobby” beyond its current capabilities. In June, a software update brought HBO GO, WatchESPN, Sky News and other channels to the small set-top streamer. More recently, a report claimed popular music platform Vevo is working on an app that will bring 24/7 music to Apple TV.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

CrossOver updated to 12.5

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, August 13th, 2013, 10:44
Category: News, Software

You can’t knock an appreciable update.

CrossOver, the popular virtualization program from CodeWeavers, has been updated to version 12.5. The new version, an 84.9 megabyte download, is available as a demo, offers the following fix:

WHAT’S NEW:
– Drag and Drop.

– System Tray Icons in the Mac Menu Bar.

– Shaped windows and transparency.

– Better mouse handling for many games.

– Support for command-tab switching in full-screen mode.

– Better integration with the OS X Dock, and features such as Expose and Spaces.

– Better international keyboard support.

– Improved clipboard (cut and paste) support.

– Support for mice with more than three buttons.

– Fixes for many window ordering problems.

– Force-feedback joysticks are supported.

– Improved input method support for non-Latin characters.

Application Support:
Microsoft Outlook:
– Microsoft Outlook will now maintain its connection when the computer sleeps or the network configuration changes.

– Improved auto-discovery for Exchange account setup.

– Outlook will no longer crash if the Exchange server is unavailable.

– Fixed a crash when editing contacts.

– Right-click to format will now work.

– Improved NTLM authentication – you can now change your password if you have ‘smbpasswd’ installed.

– Improved sharepoint list display in profile.

– Characters can now be inserted from the character palette.

– Fixed printing of calendar items.

– Attachment preview will now work.

– Outlook Today can now be customized.

– Phone numbers now accept a ‘+’ character for international notation.

Microsoft Excel:
– Fixed a crash when copying a worksheet.

– Improved macro support.

– Fixed a problem opening read-only files.

– Fixed garbage when opening xlsx documents.

Quicken:
– Fixed display of help topics in Quicken 2012.

– Fixed a bug in the ‘Change Assumptions’ function of Quicken 2013.

Internet Explorer 7:
– More web sites will now work.

– Fixed a bug which sometimes caused failure during installation.

– Fixed a crash in the print dialog.

World of Tanks:
– Fixed a crash connecting to the server on certain Macs.

– Fixed a crash when zooming in on targets.

Microsoft Office:
– Fixed problems in which drop-down menus could not be dismissed.

– Microsoft Office 2010 Simplified Chinese Edition will now install.

– Fixed a bug which caused Microsoft Office 2007 to fail to install on some machines.

– Fixed an installation conflict between .Net 4.0 and DirectX 9.

– Fixed an installation problem with Microsoft Money 2001.

– Fixed an issue where Microsoft Visio 2010 would not open .vxd files.

– Fixed installation problems with .Net 3.5.

– Fixed graphical glitches in Wizard101.

– Fixed problems with the patcher in Pirate101.

– Fixed a crash on login in Starcraft II.

– Fixed crashes on install of Rift’s Storm Legion expansion.

– Fixed Rift graphics bugs on Nvidia hardware.

– Fixed various errors in ChemSketch 12.

– Fixed a crash in Baseball Mogul 2013 and 2014.

Other Improvements:
– CrossOver 12.5.0 is based on the new stable Wine 1.6 release. This includes innumerable fixes for various Windows applications.

– CrossOver can be configured for compatibility with Windows 7.

CrossOver 12.5 retails for US$59.95 and requires Mac OS X 10.6 and or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

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

Rumor: Next-gen low cost iPhone may not include Siri, could replace iPhone 4 as base model

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, August 13th, 2013, 07:37
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The plastic low-cost iPhone may become Apple’s new overall base model.

Per AppleInsider, in a research note issued to investors on Monday, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster predicts Apple may scale back iOS 7 on a rumored low-cost iPhone, possibly hobbling the handset by deactivating features like Siri.

Recognizing recent rumors of a Sept. 10 iPhone announcement, Munster took the chance to update investors on his Apple product pipeline predictions for the rest of the year and into 2014.

The analyst’s expectations for the next-generation iPhone, dubbed by many as the “iPhone 5S,” are very much in line with rumors and reports coming from a multitude of sources. Aside from incorporating a fingerprint sensor into the home button, which Munster believes will be limited to user authentication, the 5S will feature the usual “S-series” component upgrades. These include increased processor performance, extended battery life, more memory, and other spec bumps.

While his iPhone 5S outlook is in line with mainstream rumblings, Munster’s thoughts on the rumored less-expensive “iPhone 5C” are a bit unconventional. Like others, he predicts the 5C will have a plastic casing, 4-inch display and slightly lower end internal components than the iPhone 5S. However, the analyst believes Apple will exclude software features when the handset launches, specifically the Siri voice recognizing virtual assistant.

Curiously, Munster cites the lack of Siri on the iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4 in his iPhone 5C prediction, but fails to mention the service was never part of iOS until Apple incorporated the feature in the iPhone 4S. Apple purchased Siri, which was formerly an iOS app, in April 2010, ultimately baking the technology into iOS 5 over a year later.

Siri was never officially activated on the iPhone 4 or earlier models, though a jailbreak proved the service could run on older hardware. It is thought that special noise cancellation tech implemented in certain A5 processors, used in the iPhone 4S, iPad mini and fifth-generation iPod touch, is needed for Siri to work optimally. Even with the latest iOS 6, Siri is still absent in the iPhone 4 and below.

As for Apple’s low-end handset offerings, Munster believes “it may make sense” for the company to discontinue the iPhone 4S product line instead of carrying the model over as a free-on-contract device. This would bring parity to the lineup, the analyst says, with the iPhone 5S, current iPhone 5 and iPhone 5C all sporting similar designs and screen sizes.

In this configuration, Munster sees the iPhone 5C as selling for an estimated US$300.

Finally, Munster agrees with the September iPhone event rumor, and sees October as a likely launch timeframe for both a new iPad and iPad mini. Further out, he predicts Apple to debut a new TV product before the end of 2013, while a larger-screened iPhone and so-called “iWatch” should hit store shelves by mid-2014.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple offers rare iTunes movie collection sale

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, August 13th, 2013, 07:08
Category: News, retail

A deal’s a deal.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple is apparently offering a rare sale on iTunes movie bundles yielding the lowest prices seen to date on digital downloads of 25 popular movie collections. Bundles are available in SD/HD and start at US$9.99, making a lot of these “buy one get two free” pricing.

From what’s being seen, the prices have fluctuated a bit and the offer is apparently only applicable in the U.S.

Some standouts (HD Prices):
– Harry Potter Complete Collection: US$9.99 (normally US$125.92)

– Spiderman Trilogy: US$19.99

– The Godfather Trilogy: The Coppola Restoration: US$19.99

– The Lord of the Rings Trilogy: US$9.99 (normally US$44.97)

– Lethal Weapon Movie Collection: US$9.99

– Austin Powers Collection for US$9.99

– The Bourne Collection – US$29.99 (normally US$59.96)

– The Matrix Trilogy: US$9.99 (normally US$44.97)

– The X-Men Quadrilogy US$29.99 (normally US$59.96)

– Die Hard Ultimate collection: US$39.99

– Back to the Future Trilogy: US$19.99

It’s unknown as to when this sale will last until, so catch it while you can and let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Rumor: Apple to debut thinner next-gen iPad, iPad mini with Retina display in 2013

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Date: Tuesday, August 13th, 2013, 06:38
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPad mini, Rumor

The upcoming iPad could be thinner for the full iPad and feature a Retina display for the mini version.

Per Bloomberg, Apple will launch a Retina iPad mini and a slimmed down full-size iPad by the end of 2013.

The publication cites sources familiar with Apple’s plans as saying the company will not only debut a redesigned 9.7-inch iPad in the fourth quarter, but is also looking to release a hotly anticipated iPad mini with Retina display before the year is out. It is unclear if the models will launch simultaneously.

One source stated the next-generation iPad will take its design cues from the current iPad mini, including a thinner side bezel and rounded corners. There have been a number of supposed parts leaks, as well as analyst predictions, regarding Apple’s next iPad, most of which point to a redesigned exterior and enhanced innards.

As for the next-gen iPad mini, Monday’s report was light on specifics, only mentioning that the tablet would include a high-resolution Retina display. Similar rumors have been present since June with few, if any, true specifics to be had here.

Stay tuned for details as they become available and let us know what you think in the comments.

Apple to expand USB takeback program to UK, other countries

Posted by:
Date: Monday, August 12th, 2013, 14:30
Category: Accessory, iPad, iPod Touch, News, retail, Rumor

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The Apple USB power adapter takeback program has expanded.

Per MacNN and 9to5Mac, Apple is extending the number of eligible countries in its USB adapter takeback program. The program began in China August 9th, and is coming to the US on August 16th. Now also joining on the 16th will be Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and the UK.

The deadline for the program in the new countries is October 18th, as in the US. Participants can get a new USB adapter at a discounted price, so long as they bring in an old third-party adapter plus an iPhone, iPod, or iPad to validate a serial number. The lower price is $14 in Canada, €10 in France and Germany, ¥1,000 in Japan, and £8 in the UK.

9to5Mac claims that each retail Apple Store will have at least one iOS Genius on hand to conduct trade-ins for the old adapters. Stores are also, reportedly, already receiving related training materials.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Skype for iPad updated for version 4.10, receives HD video calls on iPad 4, call quality improvements

Posted by:
Date: Monday, August 12th, 2013, 07:26
Category: News, Software

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On Monday, Skype released version 4.10 of its iPad app with the ability to make HD quality video calls in addition to several other performance improvements.

Per 9to5 Mac, the HD video calling feature is only available on the fourth-generation iPad, and version 4.10 also brings the following fixes and changes:
– Make HD quality video calls from your iPad 4.

– General improvements to call quality and stability.

– A redesigned country code picker on the dial pad.

Skype 4.10 is available for free and requires iOS 5.0 or later to install and run.

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