Push Notifications Ready for WWDC?

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009, 14:51
Category: iPhone, Software

As WWDC gets closer (less than a week now!), people are beginning to wrap their predictions for the Keynote. A new iPhone is pretty much in the bag, but there are still a lot of questions on the minds of iPhone watchers.

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It is presumed that any new iPhone models will not go on sale until at least the end of July, based on the previous two generations. If the hardware is ready, will the software be ready and solid? Apple already missed the boat on Push Notifications in firmware 2.x, as noted by Scott Forestall’s apology during the iPhone 3.0 sneak peek. Will it be ready in time for the release of 3.0?

According to MacRumors, Appple seems to be wrapping its high-volume testing of the push notification feature that it began in mid-April. A special “developer” build of the Associated Press’s iPhone app was distributed by Apple for testing the service. It is believed that the notification that testing is complete coupled with the release of iTunes 8.2, which reportedly adds compatibility with firmware 3.0, is the signal that Apple is wrapping up the iPhone OS development for imminent release.

Since it is expected that many of the WWDC sessions will focus on the new mobile OS, it will need to be ready in time for the event so that developers can start putting the finishing touches on their apps to be ready for 3.0 and the new iPhone (s?). One question I have is that given that OS 3.0 will be backwards compatible with both the original and 3G iPhones, is there a chance we might see Scott, Phil, or even a surprise visit from Steve, announce that the 3.0 version is ready for download on June 8th?! If you think about it, it might just be a good way to roll out the new OS and put it through it’s paces before the new hardware is in stores.

What do you think? Less than one week left to speculate. Share it in the forums!

Microsoft Launches Bing Preview

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009, 13:59
Category: Microsoft, Software

Having lost the battle to acquire Yahoo! so many times, Microsoft decided it still needed to get into the search engine business, and this weekend they launched a “preview” of the service.

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Called “bing“, the service doesn’t look much unlike Google, except for some prettier formatting. Opinions online seem pretty varied so far, as people try to test the new engine search capabilities. Much like the recent Wolfram|Alpha preview, most users seem polarized from being very impressed, to not at all, with search results of some terms leaving much to be desired. However, as a preview, it seems to do a pretty good job.

Personally, I did not spend a lot of time hammering on the service, but I did find the image search to be very good, and I liked the way the images were displayed where a roll-over would give you the additional details and location of the picture.

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It also seemed pretty fast compared to Google, but maybe bing just doesn’t have enough data to bog it down yet. If there was one thing that really disappoints me about the service, it is that I don’t see anything new or revolutionary. Perhaps that is coming, but it seems like Microsoft is doing the usual thing and just putting their spin on something somebody else has already done. Come on guys, lets see some innovation!

Send us your thoughts in the forums!

Hulu Desktop released for Mac and PC

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009, 13:51
Category: Software

Last week, Hulu released it’s Hulu Desktop application for Mac and Windows, which allows you to stream it’s library of videos without using a web browser.

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The current release is considered a “beta” while Hulu “[...] plan[s] to gather and incorporate user feedback to improve the service”. The software and it’s interface fill the entire desktop screen, much like Apple’s DVD player application, to provide a menu of available videos and full-screen viewing. The software is designed to be controlled by an Apple Remote or Windows Media remote as well as keyboard controls. At the moment it doesn’t seem like Hulu Desktop offers much of an advantage over the web based version.

If you want to try it, however, you will need a fairly new Mac or PC. The minimim requirements to run Hulu Desktop are as follows:

Minimum requirements for Mac:
Intel Pentium Core Duo 2.0GHz
At least 2.0 GB of RAM
Mac OS X v10.4 (Tiger) or later
2 Mbps Internet connection
Flash 9.0.124

Minimum requirements for Windows:
Intel Pentium Core Duo 1.8GHz
At least 2.0 GB of RAM
Windows XP or later
2 Mbps Internet connection
Flash 9.0.124

And if you have a PowerPC-based Mac, don’t even bother. There has been some speculation that this was the reason Hulu was so intent on shutting down Boxee’s access to Hulu feeds, but that seems odd since Hulu gets revenue from showing the ads, not from the software, so I would think the more programs that can play those ads would be better for them. Plus Boxee can run on PPC Macs, Apple TV, and Ubuntu Linux. No Windows version yet. You can read more about their response on their blog.

Discuss your thoughts in the forums!

Psystar Files for Bankruptcy

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, May 26th, 2009, 17:48
Category: News

According to AppleInsider, the Mac clone maker Psystar filed Chapter 11 in Florida last week, which will likely delay its court battle with Apple. Psystar entered the news-stream when it began selling Intel-based computers with Mac OS X pre-installed, which according to Apple is an infringement of the OS X End User Agreement (EUA) which forbids the installation of the software on non-Apple hardware. Not only that, but Psystar had to “hack” the Mac OS in order to get it to run on the hardware, which further complicated the copyright infringement claims. Apple responded by taking Psystar to court last July.
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Normally, that would be the end of the story. The twist was that Psystar counter-sued Apple claiming that the computer maker was violating anti-trust laws. This move generated a lot of attention due mainly to the fact that if Psystar somehow won the case, it would drastically affect the way computer OSes, particularly OS X, would be sold and distributed.
Another factor in the story was the fact that Psystar, a relatively small company, was able to sustain a long and costly legal battle, generating speculation that an outside benefactor was funding Psystar’s legal actions. Psystar has also drawn out the proceedings by failing to provide Apple with paperwork and a contact within the company to work through legal details.
It would seem with Psystar’s bankruptcy filing that its resources have finally begun to dry up, but they have not given up yet. In the court documents filed only a week ago, Psystar maintained that it “[...] plans on emerging from this Chapter 11 with a strong and effective plan to make an increasingly higher profit and still provide the consumer with the product that they have grown to enjoy and trust.”
Good luck with that.
Personally, even though I am in favor of Open Source development, and even have an interest in the “Hackintosh” community, I’m really not in favor of Psystar’s end run around Apple’s licensing. I also fear that were they to continue to sell their OS X based products, people attempting to save money (something I also support), might find themselves with an unsupported system that is more PC-like than the reliable Mac experience, and support, of which most of us are accustomed.

The Missing Sync for iPhone 2.0 for Mac Released

Posted by:
Date: Monday, May 11th, 2009, 02:03
Category: iPhone, Mac Desktop, Software

Mark/Space, Inc. has updated it’s popular iPhone syncing software to version 2.0. The Missing Sync for iPhone 2.0 for Mac adds synchronization of:
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  • Notes
  • Files
  • Tasks

…between your Mac and iPhone or iPod touch with 2.1 Software Update. Something even lacking in iPhone software 3.0 coming this summer, Missing Sync is able to transfer To-dos back and forth from iCal, and it can sync all your items via wi-fi!
Other functions Missing Sync allows you to do:

  • Transfer contacts and more from a previous smartphone to the iPhone.
  • Backup text messages to Mac and extract data like contacts into AddressBook.
  • Copy your call history to your Mac where you can store, search and sort them.

The Mark/Space website states that version 2.0 for Windows is coming soon!

Myst Comes to the iPhone and iPod Touch

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, May 6th, 2009, 23:35
Category: Game, iPhone, Software

Ah, the beautifully rendered scenes, the clever puzzles, and the creepy ambient sounds and music. If you’ve been a Mac user since the days of the beige cases, you probably remember all of these characteristics from playing the game Myst and its sequels, developed by Cyan which was founded by Rand and Robyn Miller.

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The original Myst, released in 1993, sold over 12 million copies and held the title of best-selling computer game until The Sims was released in 2000. The game was partly responsible for the CD’s increase in popularity as it was the first game to be released exclusively on CD. The game made extensive use of Apple’s QuickTime technology for its gameplay, and all the environments were complete 3D modeled creations, which was rare for games at the time.

Now, the entire game has been reproduced in iPhone/iPod Touch format and is available in the App Store [app link]. The game has been updated to use multi-touch controls rather than the original point and click navigation. Otherwise your trip through the four Ages of Myst to solve its puzzles and unravel the mystery of Atrus and his “linking books” remains intact from the original.

Myst requires 1.5GB of free space to install, though it will reduce in size to 727MB or so once it’s finished installing. The game requires iPhone 2.2.1 software and is $5.99 in the App Store.

Apple Rumored to Buy Twitter

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, May 5th, 2009, 14:43
Category: Apple, Rumor

The latest pre-WWDC rumors don’t involve the iPhone, the Mac, or even Snow Leopard. The buzz making it’s way around the bloggosphere is that Apple has it’s eye on the social, micro-blogging service Twitter.

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The site TechCrunch has posted a report on the growing rumor of an Twitter buy-out:

Today, though, rumors popped up that Apple may be looking to buy Twitter. “Apple is in late stage negotiations to buy Twitter and is hoping to announce it at WWDC in June,” said a normally reliable source this evening, adding that the purchase price would be $700 million in cash.

The article goes on to remind readers that Twitter, and CEO Evan Williams, turned down a bid from Google earlier this year in favor of staying independent. Other news stories have reported that Twitter is looking at different revenue generating models such as a “Twitter Pro” account for businesses and power tweeters in the hopes of offsetting the cost maintaining the rapidly growing service. Twitter is hoping to bring on more investors rather than selling out.

It is interesting to note that Twitter’s offices in San Francisco are all Mac-based and supposedly has a very good relationship with Apple, so if anyone had a chance it might be the Cupertino computer appliance device maker. Personally, I don’t see why Apple would do this. Granted, Twitter is popular and could possibly be intergrated into MobileMe, but Apple doesn’t usually get involved in something unless it will sell more of their products, and even though there is no shortage of Twitter clients for the iPhone, I don’t see it being a selling point to move more hardware. Send us your thoughts in the forums!

Truphone 3.0 Released

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, April 29th, 2009, 23:26
Category: iPhone, Software, Uncategorized

Software Cellular Network Ltd., makers of Truphone software and call services, released version 3.0 of its popular iPhone app. The new version, available in the App Store (iTunes link), adds the following new features:

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  • View your call history in real time.
  • Instant messenger tool is now integrated into the app.
  • Super-clear sound and improved reliability.

The new version requires an iPhone running firmware 2.1 or higher.

Versions of Truphone are also available for the iPod Touch and G1 (Android) Smartphone.

Amazon Acquires iPhone eBook Reader Stanza

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, April 29th, 2009, 22:16
Category: iPhone, News, Software

Apparently the Kindle app for iPhone wasn’t enough for Amazon. Monday it was announced on Lexcycle, Inc.’s blog that the online retailer purchased the company which includes the popular iPhone eBook reader Stanza.

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According to the Lexcycle blog, there will be no changes to the Stanza application or it’s function as the result of the acquisition. They imply that they hope they will be able to offer more books and services through the Amazon connection. No mention of the company’s purchase on Amazon’s web site or PR releases.

Lexcycle is encouraging discussion of the move on their forums or by contacting them directly at info@lexcycle.com. You can discuss it on OUR forums and tell us whether you think this is a good thing or a bad thing. Is this the first step in an Amazon eBook monopoly? Personally, I think Stanza is a great program so I hope Amazon leaves it alone and just makes good deals on books available to it.

New Snow Leopard Seed and Server Features for iPhone

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Date: Tuesday, April 28th, 2009, 14:08
Category: Apple, iPhone, Mac, Mobile, Server, Services, Software

Apple sent an announcement to developers last Thursday that the next seed for Snow Leopard was available for downloading. AppleInsider reported that this was the second beta of the software released this month and is labeled Mac OS X 10.6 build 10A335.

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The new download is reported to also include a new version of 10.6 Snow Leopard Server which incorporates a number of new features. Some of the features mentioned, “[...] new junk mail filters in Mail Server, better automated account creation in Calendar Server, and completely re-written certificate management code”.

One of the developments that may be of interest to businesses that have, or want to deploy, a fleet of iPhones to their employees is the addition of the secure Mobile Access Server. The first hints of the new mobile services comes as a listing on Apple’s Developer site as one of the sessions available at WWDC called Deploying Mobile Access Server. The session has the following description:

Secure remote access to your business network has never been more critical than in today’s increasingly mobile world. The Mobile Access Server provides a path through a corporate firewall for IMAP, SMTP, HTTP, and CalDAV without using VPN. Learn about the features of, and deployment tips for, this powerful new service in Snow Leopard Server.

This comes in addition to features already mentioned such as remote access and control of mobile devices as well as push notifications. This positions OS X Server as a means to deliver intranet web services to iPhone and iPod touch users far more cost effectively than Microsoft Windows Server, and takes advantage of the popularity of the iPhone.