Microsoft to launch Surface Pro tablet, expand international availability on February 9th

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Date: Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013, 08:33
Category: Hardware, News

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If you’re hankering for more of Microsoft’s Surface tablet, you’re in luck.

Per AppleInsider, Microsoft announced on Tuesday that it will expand its Surface tablet lineup next month with the new “Pro” model running Windows 8, as well as a new “RT” version with 64 gigabytes of storage.

Surface Windows 8 Pro will be available for purchase on Feb. 9 in the U.S and Canada starting at US$899 for the 64-gigabyte version. The Surface Pro comes with a Surface Pen and is powered by an Intel Core i5 processor.

The 64-gigabyte standalone version of Surface Windows RT will run an ARM processor like the existing Windows RT tablets. The new high-capacity variant will retail for0 US$599, with the touch cover sold separately.

Microsoft will also launch new Surface accessories in markets where the tablet is still available. They are three limited edition Touch Covers, as well as the Wedge Touch Mouse Surface Edition.

The new Touch Covers will be available in red, magenta and cyan for US$129.99, while the Wedge Touch Mouse will be US$69.95.

Finally, Microsoft also revealed it will more than double the number of markets in which Surface Windows RT is currently available.

The 13 additional markets are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. They join markets where Surface RT is already available: Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

If you’ve had a chance to tinker with the Surface and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

DigiTimes falls back on larger-screen iPhone story, agrees with Wall Street Journal’s assessment of next-gen iPhone hardware

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Date: Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013, 07:55
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

Sometimes you’re dead-on, other times it’s time to head back to the drawing board.

Per AppleInsider, Taiwanese publication Digitimes on Tuesday backpedaled on its previous claims that Apple would be launching a cheaper, yet larger-screened, iPhone variant in 2013 to combat a growing low-end “phablet” market.

While DigiTimes reversed its original take on big-screen iPhone debut, the publication is hedging its bets and contends that Apple will eventually release such a handset, just not in 2013.

The report went on to agree with the The Wall Street Journal’s story, which previously claimed that Apple is planning on releasing two separate iPhone models this year. In its piece, the WSJ cited sources as saying both a successor to the current iPhone 5 and a budget smartphone, possibly made of polycarbonate, would launch sometime in 2013.

Adding to Tuesday’s rumor, DigiTimes noted that both the next-generation iPhone and rumored handset will feature in-cell touchscreen panels. The current iPhone 5 already boasts the advanced screen tech that allows for a thinner device by integrating touch sensing components within the LCD array. Yield rates of the complex displays caused supply constraints when the latest iPhone launched last year, but those production issues are said to have been corrected.

The latest rumor may be unfounded, however, as Apple is thought to have chosen older touchscreen tech, in addition to non-Retina resolution panels, with the iPad mini in attempts to capitalize on already slim margins. In-cell screens are not yet an industry standard and therefore substantially raise a device’s bill of materials.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google Chrome updated to 24.0.1312.56

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Date: Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013, 07:07
Category: News, Software

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You can’t knock a decent web browser update.

Late Tuesday, Google released version 24.0.1312.56 of its Chrome web browser. The update, a 46.8 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:
– Fixed performance of mouse wheel scrolling. [Issue: 160122]

– Fixed visited links regression. [Issue: 160025]

Google Chrome 24.0.1312.56 requires an Intel-based Mac with Mac OS X 10.6 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.

Apple patent shows interest in adjusting on-screen brightness according to content being shown

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013, 06:00
Category: News, Patents

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This could lead to some interesting stuff.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a patent discovered on Tuesday outlines a system in which displays like the iPhone and iPad’s Retina panels are automatically dimmed based on what type of content is showing on screen, allowing for portable devices to conserve energy.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded Apple’s patent No. 8,358,273 for a “Portable media device with power-managed display,” which describes a unique method of adjusting the intensity (brightness) of a device’s screen depending on what is being displayed.

Other techniques like photosensor-based display controls have been in use for years, but Apple’s method goes further by managing display brightness based on the monitoring of actual content. Currently, devices may auto-dim in dark-lit rooms or when they haven’t been used for a set amount of time. With the ‘273 patent, both the type and characteristics of displayed content is taken into consideration, allowing for further refinement of auto-dimming procedures that could translate to power savings.

The method relies on identifying the type of content being displayed and setting an output intensity for the display device based on either a predetermined configuration or a set of user preferences. Content types are described as images, photos or video, among others.

After determining what type of content is on a device’s screen, the system then takes into account the characteristics of said content. For example, if a light image is being displayed, the brightness may be lowered. This process becomes more complex for video content, which must be monitored frame by frame and weighted by metrics like contrast, darkness, lightness and color. In some embodiments, the system may sample at stepped intervals like every 10 frames to keep brightness consistent throughout viewing.

The management system offers users more control over screen auto-dimming by allowing a set of preferences to override automatic controls. An example user-configurable setting could be “Brightness Mode,” which would act much like a modern HDTV to provide levels of brightness referenced by the control module.

It is unclear how much processing power the system would require, though there are various embodiments that leverage software, hardware or a combination of the two to achieve the desired results.

The patent is credited to Andrew Bert Hodge, Guy Bar-Nahum, Shawn R. Gettemy and David John Tupman.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Opera demos “Ice” web browser for iOS, Android devices

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Date: Monday, January 21st, 2013, 08:59
Category: iPad, iPhone, News, Software

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It never hurts to have a wider array of web browser choices for your iOS device.

Per Pocket Lint and AppleInsider, Opera Software on Friday unveiled its latest project, a WebKit-based mobile browser called “Opera Ice” that is specifically designed for screen formats seen on popular smartphones and tablets, including the iPhone and iPad.

In an internal video released on Friday, Opera gave a brief look at a beta of the new app, which features an icon-based interface much like the optional homescreens seen on desktop versions of Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome browsers.



According to the developers, the app was designed to hide the usual clutter seen with modern web browsers, including the ubiquitous URL bar, that takes up limited screen real estate on mobile devices. The so-called “full touch browser” does away with buttons and menus to create a spartan user interface driven by screen taps and gestures.

Instead of the Presto rendering engine that Opera has used for years, Ice is based on WebKit, the same engine used by both Apple and Google. The move is meant to keep Opera in the fast-changing mobile market.

“We need to focus on getting strong products out on iOS and Android,” said Opera CEO Lars Boilesen.

As for the company’s current mobile solution, Opera mini, Boilesen said that it won’t be replaced by Ice. Instead, the platform will be leveraged to generate users that will eventually be migrated over to new mobile apps. Opera Ice is expected to debut sometime in February, while a new unannounced desktop browser is slated for a March release.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

OnyX updated to 2.6.6

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Date: Monday, January 21st, 2013, 07:35
Category: News, Software

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OnyX, Titanium Software’s popular freeware multifunction utility for Mac OS X, has been updated to version 2.6.6. The new version, a 16.9 megabyte download via MacUpdate, adds the following fixes and changes:
– Launching speed now slightly faster.

– Bug corrected with the dates of running scripts.

– Removed the iCal Debug menu option.

– Bug corrected when displaying the Help of some translations.

– Localizations improved.

– Deleting the Fonts improved.

– Deleting the Internet Cache improved.

– New Info > Protect panel.

– New version of sqlite3.

– Code optimized.

OnyX 2.6.6 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.

Mozilla releases Firefox 18.0.1 update

Posted by:
Date: Monday, January 21st, 2013, 07:25
Category: News, Software

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Never knock a decent update on a web browser you’re fond of.

On Tuesday, Mozilla.org released version 18.0.1 of its Firefox web browser. The new version, a 36.6 megabyte download and adds the following fixes and changes:

Bugs Fixed:
– Problems involving HTTP Proxy Transactions.

– Unity player crashes on Mac OS X (bug 828954).

– Disabled HIDPI support on external monitors to avoid rendering glitches (bug 814434).

New:
– Faster JavaScript performance via IonMonkey compiler.

– Support for Retina Display on OS X 10.7 Lion and up.

– Preliminary support for WebRTC.

Changed:
– Experience better image quality with our new HTML scaling algorithm.

– Performance improvements around tab switching.

Developer:
– Support for new DOM property window.devicePixelRatio.

– Improvement in startup time through smart handling of signed extension certificates.

HTML5:
– Support for W3C touch events implemented, taking the place of MozTouch events.

Fixed:
– Disable insecure content loading on HTTPS pages (62178).

– Improved responsiveness for users on proxies (769764).

Firefox 18.0.1 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 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.

Dropbox updated to 1.6.16

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Date: Monday, January 21st, 2013, 07:16
Category: News, Software

You can’t knock an update with a solid fix to it.

On Tuesday, Dropbox released version 1.6.16 of its cloud-based storage client for Mac OS X. The new version, a 21.9 megabyte download, which adds the following fixes and changes:

– Fixed Finder crashing.

Dropbox 1.6.16 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

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

Apple patent shows e-wallet program with controllable accounts for children

Posted by:
Date: Friday, January 18th, 2013, 08:28
Category: iOS, News, Patents, Software

applelogo_silver

This could be useful.

Per FreePatentsOnline, a recent patent application shows Apple’s idea for an “e-wallet” iPhone application that would allow subsidiary accounts for children, complete with customizable spending limits and restrictions.

Apple’s interest in the concept was revealed in a patent application published Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office entitled “Parental Controls.” It describes ways that a user could establish rules for subsidiary financial accounts.

The proposed invention shows a hypothetical application on the iPhone home screen named “E-Wallet.” The software allows users to have a primary account tied to a credit card, allowing transactions to be conducted with an iPhone.

The key feature of the filing are the E-Wallet subsidiary accounts. By creating one, the user can allow new users, such as children, to have access to the E-Wallet app with controlled spending limits.

The customizable rules would allow a parent to set, for example, a weekly or monthly allowance for their children. The application would also enable parents to decline transactions if they are over a certain amount of money.

Parents could also restrict transactions from certain merchant categories, or even block sales to a specific merchant or location. In one example, the application is set to prevent the user from purchasing alcohol or tobacco with Apple’s iPhone e-wallet.

Illustrations included in Apple’s patent filing show that the concept for the E-Wallet application would include purchase history, bill summary, and the ability to search for specific transactions. The E-Wallet app would be driven by users’ existing credit cards, with numbers entered into the software to link them together.

The filing goes on to note that a future iPhone could have an integrated near-field communication chip to supplement the E-Wallet app. It notes that communication using the NFC component would occur in a range of 2 to 4 centimeters.

The proposed invention, published by the USPTO this week, is a continuation of a filing first made by Apple in January of 2009, and issued as U.S. Patent No. 8,127,982 in March of 2012. It is credited to Brandon J. Casey, Gary L. Wipfler, and Erik Cressall.

Not the worst idea in the world and please let us know what you think in the comments.

Sprint to add 28 cities to 4G LTE network in coming months

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Date: Friday, January 18th, 2013, 08:10
Category: iPhone, News

A growing network…that’s never a bad thing.

Per AppleInsider, U.S. carrier Sprint announced Thursday that its 4G LTE network, which offers faster connections to the iPhone 5 and Apple’s latest iPads, will expand to 28 new cities in the coming months.

The continuing deployment is part of Sprint’s Network Vision strategy, in which the company will consolidate multiple network technologies into one new, seamless network.

The goal, Sprint said, is to increase efficiency and enhance network coverage, call quality and data speeds for customers across the U.S.

The full list of markets that will gain access to Sprint 4G LTE follows:
Albany, Ga.
Anderson, S.C.
Bay City, Mich
Branson, Mo.
Bremerton/Silverdale, Wash.
Columbus, Ga.
Columbus, Miss.
Decatur, Ala.
Florence/Muscle Shoals, Ala.
Gadsden, Ala.
Gaffney, S.C.
Gettysburg, Pa.
Glasgow, Ky.
Homosassa Springs, Fla.
Hot Springs, Ark.
Lake City, Fla.
Lake Havasu City/Kingman, Ariz.
Midland, Mich.
Nacogdoches, Tex.
Opelousas/Eunice, La.
Oxford, Miss.
Paris, Tex.
Pittsfield, Mass.
Saginaw, Mich.
Spartanburg, S.C.
The Villages, Fla.
Waycross, Ga.
Winona, Minn.

During the pre-launch phase, customers of Sprint with compatible 4G LTE devices, like Apple’s iPhone 5, may begin to see coverage. Customers are welcome to use the network before it officially launches.

Sprint promises that customers on its LTE network will see enhanced call quality and better performance. 4G LTE allows for significantly improved data speeds, which will enhance browsing the Web, streaming music or video, and downloading applications from the App Store.

Sprint has already announced nearly 200 markets where Sprint 4G LTE is on its way, including Boston; Charlotte, N.C.; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Memphis, Tenn.; Miami; Nashville, Tenn.; New Orleans; New York; Philadelphia; and Washington, D.C. The carrier announced plans to expand its LTE network in 100 new cities in September.

If you’ve had a chance to try the new Sprint network locations, let us know what you make of them in the comments.