Microsoft launches Xbox Music streaming service for iOS, Android devices

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Date: Monday, September 9th, 2013, 09:05
Category: iOS, News, Software

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If you’re hankering for additional streaming music on your iOS device, Microsoft has its own offerings prior to Apple’s release of its iTunes Radio streaming service.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Microsoft has released Xbox Music app for iPhone. Xbox Music was first unveiled last October and allows users to listen to ad-supported or ad-free music (depending on whether they have a paying subscription or not) on their Microsoft devices, such as Windows Phone, Xbox 360 and Windows PCs.

With today’s launch on iOS and Android devices, Microsoft appears to acknowledge that it thinks Apple’s iTunes Radio could become a big player on the streaming-music front — something it hopes to stave off with the expansion of Xbox Music.

Today’s release of the app offers users the following:
- Stream ad-free music from a catalog of tens of millions of songs.

- Add songs, albums and playlists to your Xbox Music collection and access them from other devices.

- Create playlists that sync across your phone, Xbox 360, PC, tablet and the web.

- Listen to music while using your iPhone.

- Listen to artist-based radio stations.

- Enjoy a rich visual experience for searching, viewing and playing back music.

- The company also says it will be releasing an update soon that will allow users to download music for offline listening.

Though Xbox Music is a free download, mobile users will be required to have an Xbox Music Pass to listen to the service on their iPhone. Xbox Music Passes are available for a free 30-day trial, but retail for US$9.99 a month after that.

Xbox Music requires iOS 6.0 or later to install and run.

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

Apple confirms September 10th media event, hints at next-gen iPhone handsets

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Date: Wednesday, September 4th, 2013, 06:12
Category: Hardware, iOS, iPhone, News, security, Software

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It went official yesterday.

On Tuesday, Apple sent out invitations for a media event next Tuesday, Sept. 10, at which the company is expected to show off its next-generation iPhone models that will come in a new range of colors.

Per The Loop, the event will kick off at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern, according to The Loop. It will be held at Apple’s corporate headquarters in Cupertino, Calif.

Though the invitation itself makes no mention of the iPhone, it does say that the announcement “should brighten everyone’s day” — a likely reference to the fact that Apple is expected to offer its next iPhones in an array of new colors. Specifically, leaked parts have suggested “iPhone 5S” will be available in a new “champagne” shade, while a low-cost plastic “iPhone 5C” will potentially be available in white, green, red, blue, pink, and possibly more.


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Colors featured in the invitation include yellow, green, orange, white, red, pink, and shades of dark and light blue. Apple’s forthcoming iOS 7 update is also a more vibrant and colorful update to the company’s mobile operating system.

The company may have some surprises in store for fans and observers when Chief Executive Tim Cook presumably takes the stage next Tuesday, but the event is widely expected to center on the company’s largest revenue generator: the iPhone. It will likely see the unveiling of the successor to the iPhone 5, currently thought to be named the “iPhone 5S.”

The company’s next-generation premium smartphone is expected to include a fingerprint sensor embedded in the home button. Last year, Apple purchased AuthenTec, a biometric security firm, potentially setting the stage for the defining feature of this year’s iPhone.

Integrating a fingerprint sensor — a move that would largely negate the need for passwords and lock-screen codes — could give Apple an edge that its competition could not likely soon address.

Apple’s “S” series iPhones have typically been refinements of the models immediately preceding them, and most of the rumors surrounding the “5S” have been in that vein. Leaked cases for the device have shown that it will retain the same form factor as the iPhone 5, though it may be available in a “champagne” color option, as well as the existing black and white models.

Analysts expect a 31 percent faster “A7″ chip that could be 20 percent more power efficient than the A6 seen in the iPhone 5. It may also feature a dedicated motion-tracking chip to enable a new range of user interactions.

Apple is also rumored to offer a model of the device with 128 gigabytes of storage, while the camera is expected to be upgraded with a dual-LED flash component for better low-light pictures. It’s likely that the camera itself will also see improvements.

Perhaps the most widely leaked device, though, has been the expected lower-cost plastic iPhone. That model is believed to be called the “iPhone 5C,” and recent leaks of an apparent user manual seem to confirm that name.

Observers believe that Apple will largely repackage the internals of the existing iPhone 5 into a polycarbonate shell to lower manufacturing costs. To differentiate the device, the “5C” would be available in a range of colors.

The move back to polycarbonate for the chassis would allow Apple to offer the “iPhone 5C” at a much lower price point than the premium-built iPhone 5 or anticipated “iPhone 5S.” That lower price could give Apple a better chance of picking up mid-range smartphone customers, who often choose Android phones when upgrading from feature phones simply due to price.

Most importantly, though, a lower-cost iPhone would give Apple a much better chance of competing in the world’s largest smartphone market: China. Investment firm UBS opined in August that an affordable iPhone would move more than 11 million units on China Mobile alone.

The Sept. 10 event will also mark the announcement of a release date for Apple’s newest mobile operating system, iOS 7. The new platform, revealed at this year’s Worldwide Developer Conference, features an almost complete visual overhaul, with many of the features of previous iOS versions giving way to a “flatter” aesthetic spun out of the leadership of Jony Ive, Apple’s design chief.

Aside from the new look, iOS 7 will also feature iTunes Radio, a new music streaming service that will take on Pandora, Spotify, and other services. It will also come with improvements to Siri, allowing Apple’s digital assistant to display more information and control phone settings, and tweaks to the Camera app, giving users access to more editing options.

The media event is likely to offer final – and long-anticipated – release dates for the next-gen iPhone handsets as well as iOS 7.

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.

Leaked Nuance e-mail to developer community points to September 10th release date for iOS 7

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Date: Tuesday, August 27th, 2013, 07:20
Category: iOS, iPhone, News, Software

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September 10th seems to be the day for iOS 7′s release.

Per Owened and The Verge, an email sent to developers from speech recognition software company Nuance (in this case, those using its SpeechKit 1.4.5 speech services) on Monday suggests iOS 7 could be available to the public on Sept. 10, the same day Apple is widely expected to announce its next-generation iPhone.

Technology from Nuance was recently confirmed to be part of the Siri voice-recognizing assistant, meaning the company works closely with Apple and could be privy to upcoming launch information.

There is, however, some confusion over the email’s use of iOS 7 “GA,” which means general availability, a term often confused with “GM,” or golden master. Traditionally, Apple has released GM versions of iOS to developers alongside a new iPhone’s release, with the GA rolling out a week later.

Apple is expected to announce both a next-generation “iPhone 5S” and a lower-cost “iPhone 5C” at a special event on Sept. 10.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Find My iPhone 2.0.3 update, adds bug fixes

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Date: Thursday, August 22nd, 2013, 11:17
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

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You might want to snag this sometime today.

On Thursday, Apple released version 2.0.3 of its Find My iPhone app for iOS. The new version, a 17.5 megabyte download, adds bug fixes and stability improvements for the app.

Find My iPhone 2.0.3 requires iOS 5.0 or later to install and run.

Yeah, this may not be the most poignant thing that’ll happen to you today, but if your iPhone, iPad or iPad touch gets snagged and this gives you a better shot at getting it back, then it’s worth grabbing the new version if you have a free minute.

As always, be careful out there and let us know what’s on your mind in our comments section.

Apple releases iBooks 3.1.1 update

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Date: Wednesday, August 21st, 2013, 09:58
Category: iOS, News, Software

You can’t kvetch about this kind of update.

Late Tuesday, Apple released version 3.1.1 of its iBooks update for its iOS reader program.

The new version, a 41 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- This version of iBooks improves compatibility with iOS and iCloud.

iBooks 3.1.1 requires a compatible iOS device and iOS 5.0 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.

Review: Colin McRae Rally for iOS

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Date: Wednesday, August 21st, 2013, 09:37
Category: iOS, Review, Software, Software

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Review: Colin McRae Rally iOS
By Mr. S

Rally racing is a mystery to most. A marginalized sport that has a hard time in certain countries finding mass appeal. Like other european sports, it has had an especially hard time in the United States where the name “Colin McRae” is about as well known as canadian metal band Anvil.

Take a trip to Finland, Scotland or Darkur and you will see the exact opposite. Rally is king, and its master drivers are lauded as superhuman for their ability to drive with total precision through some of the most technically challenging road courses known to man. These are not well-groomed good ol’ boys taking left turns as fast as possible. These were chip-toothed men of true grit risking their lives for the sake of perfection. For those who understand rally racing, it’s the drivers who receive the most admiration, because it takes a special kind of man to take a 90 degree corner at 70 mph on a dirt road the width of a Mini Cooper surrounded by trees that could turn your car into scrap metal the moment you slip up. That’s the kind of legend Colin McRae was. He was the Flying Scot, and until his untimely death in 2007 he was one of the most exciting drivers since Ari Vatanen.


Pay in Championship, Single Stage or Rally modes.

Play in Championship, Single Stage or Rally modes.


Getting to know rally and the men who participate in it is imperative to understanding why Codemasters was smart to take extreme care in making the Colin McRae series of racing games. The equivalent would be something like putting Michael Jordan on the cover of your NBA game; players are going to be expecting perfection and anything less will be bollocks. Not even the king of simulation, Gran Tourismo, with its amazing rally mode can match what Codemasters has done with this amazing series. Racing legend Hans Stuck famously drove his cars with only a small piece of cloth on his seat. He says “Its important I have a physical connection with my vehicle, I need to feel the sliding.” It’s that same attention to “feel” that makes Colin McRae exceptional, and it’s why this iOS port is amazing. Even though it’s just a quick port of a thirteen-year-old game for the original Playstation and PC.

And this game does not try to hide its age. Tree textures pop in and out, levels are basically ugly skinny corridors with hyper-flat surfaces, and objects that you should be able to crush or roll over stop you dead. The once-fun animated menu system with a funky 90’s soundtrack cool enough to warrant its own YouTube OST video was taken out to save space. All we’re left with is a Fisher Price style main menu with a whopping three icons and one lonesome techno track looping.

All of this is forgiven, though, because they didn’t label it as a port or “HD” remake. They simply named it “Colin McRae Rally”, but more importantly they left in everything that makes the Colin McRae Rally experience fun.


Colin McRae Rally may not be the prettiest thing out there, but it still delivers terrific gameplay.

Colin McRae Rally may not be the prettiest thing out there, but it still delivers terrific gameplay.


Codemasters made sure every little detail is pitch-perfect from how gravel sounds in a wheel well to how your wheels screech and pick up grip when sliding sideways onto a paved road. They even included the oft-overlooked and distinctive sound of a handbrake being used. While the audio is well-designed, it’s the physics that really steal the show. Rally cars have an insane amount of power, and this game does a really good job of putting that power in the hands of the player. You can see your suspension working when you slam on the breaks or take a corner hard, you can feel the difference in handling when you change gear ratios. It all works together to solidify that you are indeed flying down a european backroad at speeds that would make most men weep.

It’s the love for rally that really shines through in the Colin McRae series, and thankfully this iOS port brings that love of the sport and the attention to detail that comes with it to the App Store. For racing fans burned out on Real Racing, it’s an absolute must.

Colin McRae Rally retails for US$2.99 on the App Store and requires iOS 6.0 or later to install and run.

Georgia Institute of Technology security researchers prove App Store security flaw via “Jekyll and Hyde” attack

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Date: Tuesday, August 20th, 2013, 07:18
Category: iOS, News, security, Software

The good news is that it’s getting a bit harder to sneak malware into the App Store.

The bad news is that it can still be done and Apple might need to invest in more security/screening features.

Per 9to5Mac and Ars Technica, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology managed to get a malicious app approved by Apple and included in the App Store by using a ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ approach, where the behaviour of a benign app was remotely changed after it had been approved and installed.

It appeared to be a harmless app that Apple reviewers accepted into the iOS App Store. They were later able to update the app to carry out a variety of malicious actions without triggering any security alarms. The app, which the researchers titled “Jekyll,” worked by taking the binary code that had already been digitally signed by Apple and rearranging it in a way that gave it new and malicious behaviors.

The researchers presented their findings in a paper at the USENIX Security Forum.

“Our method allows attackers to reliably hide malicious behavior that would otherwise get their app rejected by the Apple review process. Once the app passes the review and is installed on an end user’s device, it can be instructed to carry out the intended attacks. The key idea is to make the apps remotely exploitable and subsequently introduce malicious control flows by rearranging signed code. Since the new control flows do not exist during the app review process, such apps, namely Jekyll apps, can stay undetected when reviewed and easily obtain Apple’s approval.”

An Apple spokesman stated that changes have been made to iOS as a result of the exploit, but it’s not yet clear whether the change is to iOS 7 or the older iOS 5 and 6 versions that had been attacked. The researchers only left their app in the store for a few minutes and said that it was not downloaded by anyone outside the project in that time.

Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller tweeted back in March about a study revealing the rising incidences of malware on Android. The study showed that Android accounted for 79 percent of all mobile malware in 2012, while iOS came in at less than 1 percent.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Waze realtime incident data now incorporated into Google Maps following acquisition earlier this year

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Date: Tuesday, August 20th, 2013, 07:57
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, News, Software

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This is one of the better sides of companies buying each other out.

Per AppleInsider, crowd sourced traffic data from Waze, a company that Google acquired earlier this year, is now included in the official Google Maps application for iPhone and iPad.

The company announced on its official Lat Long blog on Tuesday that real time incident reports from Waze users will appear in the official Google Maps apps for both iOS and Android in the U.S. and U.K., as well as France, Germany, Switzerland, Mexico, Brazil, Panama, Peru, Chile, Colombia, and Ecuador.

Google has also updated the Waze app for iOS, as well as Android, to add Google Search functionality. Google’s data now joins other search providers in being integrated into Waze.

Finally, Google also announced that the Waze Map Editor has been updated with Google Street View and satellite imagery. This will make it easier for users in the Waze community to correct map errors. Google announced it had acquired Waze, a crowd-sourced traffic and navigation service, in June.

Google announced in June that it had acquired Waze, a popular cross-platform, crowd-sourced traffic and navigation service to bolster its own Google Maps. As of April, Waze had more than 40 million people actively using its service and contributing data.

The Waze iOS application was highlighted by Apple >last year following the launch of iOS 6, when the company promoted alternative mapping applications and apologized for the substandard quality of its own Maps.

Google, in turn, has been working to greater monetize users of its own mapping software on iOS, as the company rolled out new banner ads for the official Google Maps application earlier this month.

If you’ve seen the realtime incident reporting in action and have any feedback to offer about it, let us know in the comments.

WatchESPN app updated to version 1.7, adds Live Toolbar, dual-stream viewing, other features

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Date: Friday, August 16th, 2013, 09:49
Category: iOS, iPad, iPad mini, News, Software

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I’m not completely indifferent to sports and I’ll support the Boston teams until the day I die.

My mom, on the other hand, will gladly run out, try to flip a police car over and light it on fire whether the Red Sox win, lose or tie in a playoff game.

That being said, the WatchESPN app for iOS received an update on Thursday that adds a new way to watch in-app content among other new features.

Per AppleInsider, the new update for WatchESPN brings the app to version 1.7, and gives iPad owners access to a new Live Toolbar. Users can now stream scores and on-demand videos from sporting events at the same time that they’re watching live programming on ESPN.

The Live Toolbar includes ESPN’s TV lineup, scores from games, and top videos. It’s available on the iPad and iPad mini only.

The update also allows users connecting from colleges and military networks to get access to ESPN3 events automatically. Additionally, it adds compatibility with ESPN on ABC events and compatibility for devices running iOS 7.

Version 1.7 of WatchESPN is available as a free download in the App Store. The 9.0MB download requires an iPhone, iPod, or iPad running iOS 6.0 or later to install and run.

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