Forstall’s refusal to sign iOS Maps apology letter may have been the last straw

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Date: Tuesday, October 30th, 2012, 07:19
Category: News

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There may be a few pretty valid reasons as to why Scott Forstall is leaving Apple.

Per the Mac Observer, sources have indicated that Forstall’s ouster was due to his refusal to sign a letter of apology over Apple Maps in September. The New York Times, Fortune, and The Verge all claim sources saying as much, suggesting that this could have played a role in his departure from Apple.

At issue was the rollout of Apple Maps as a replacement for Google Maps on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Apple Maps is a beautiful service that brings all manner of performance enhancements to Apple’s iOS devices, but it was rolled out with significant flaws, none of which were mentioned by Scott Forstall when he introduced the service at Apple media events.

Pushback and criticism of the service by customers, critics, fans, and Apple-haters alike led to Apple pulling back on its claim that Apple Maps was the, “most beautiful, powerful mapping service.” Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote an open letter apologizing for the rollout and promising that Apple Maps would improve over time.

On Monday, Apple announced that Mr. Forstall would depart Apple and that his various fields of responsibility would be split up among Apple’s other top executives. In coverage of that shakeup, The New York Times and Fortune both included minor notes that Scott Forstall had refused to put his name on the letter published by Tim Cook.

The Times specified that Mr. Forstall dismissed the criticism that was being heaped on Apple as exaggerated. Fortune said that it “sealed his fate” at Apple, a sentiment echoed at The Verge, which said the reports were backed up by its own sources.

This, in addition to recurring reports that Mr. Forstall’s management style had angered Apple’s other executives and was causing friction with those ranks, seemed to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple’s Forstall and Browett to leave company

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Date: Tuesday, October 30th, 2012, 07:03
Category: News, retail

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Well, this might change the software on your iOS device for a few years to come.

Per AppleInsider, Apple announced on Monday that Senior Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall will be leaving Cupertino in 2013, while SVP of Retail John Browett is also scheduled to depart at an undetermined time.

It is unclear why Forstall and Browett are leaving Apple, though it appears the remaining executives, including Jony Ive, Bob Masfield, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi, will shoulder the burden in lieu of replacements.

As head of Apple’s mobile software division, Forstall recently came under fire when iOS Maps was released in a form inaccuracies combined with missing features to prompt pundits and customers to widely pan the mapping service that replaced the Google Maps-powered app shipped in iOS since its inception.

In May, Forstall sold 95 percent of his shares in the company, which at the time was worth US$38.7 million. The executive was due to receive another 100,000 in restricted stock units that fully vest in 2014, and 150,000 restricted units that vest in 2013 and 2016, if he had stayed with Apple.

Forstall is expected to leave Apple sometime next year and will serve as an advisor to CEO Tim Cook in the interim.

Not much was said about SVP of Retail John Browett’s exit, though the departure comes less than one year after the former Dixons CEO was hired by Apple to replace Ron Johnson. According to the release, the entire Retail team will report directly to Cook until a suitable replacement is found.

Like Forstall, Browett’s actions were scrutinized as reports suggested the executive’s plans to raise Apple Store margins was taking its toll on employees.

Perhaps most visible was the alleged firing of recently-hired Apple Store staff in the UK, which was accompanied by drastic working hour cuts in the U.S. and Canada. Browett later claimed the staffing changes were a “mistake” and said they would be reversed, however further reports suggested that an emphasis on revenue was trumping customer experience.

It was revealed in April that Browett received 100,000 restricted stock units worth roughly US$61 million, 5,000 of which recently vested on Oct. 20. An additional 15,000 units were to vest on the executive’s one-year anniversary with Apple, with remaining shares set to vest in 20,000 unit packages every April.

Apple’s announcement regarding the changes:

Apple® today announced executive management changes that will encourage even more collaboration between the Company’s world-class hardware, software and services teams. As part of these changes, Jony Ive, Bob Mansfield, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi will add more responsibilities to their roles. Apple also announced that Scott Forstall will be leaving Apple next year and will serve as an advisor to CEO Tim Cook in the interim.

“We are in one of the most prolific periods of innovation and new products in Apple’s history”

“We are in one of the most prolific periods of innovation and new products in Apple’s history,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “The amazing products that we’ve introduced in September and October, iPhone 5, iOS 6, iPad mini, iPad, iMac, MacBook Pro, iPod touch, iPod nano and many of our applications, could only have been created at Apple and are the direct result of our relentless focus on tightly integrating world-class hardware, software and services.”

Jony Ive will provide leadership and direction for Human Interface (HI) across the company in addition to his role as the leader of Industrial Design. His incredible design aesthetic has been the driving force behind the look and feel of Apple’s products for more than a decade.

Eddy Cue will take on the additional responsibility of Siri® and Maps, placing all of our online services in one group. This organization has overseen major successes such as the iTunes Store®, the App Store℠, the iBookstore℠ and iCloud®. This group has an excellent track record of building and strengthening Apple’s online services to meet and exceed the high expectations of our customers.

Craig Federighi will lead both iOS and OS X®. Apple has the most advanced mobile and desktop operating systems, and this move brings together the OS teams to make it even easier to deliver the best technology and user experience innovations to both platforms.

Bob Mansfield will lead a new group, Technologies, which combines all of Apple’s wireless teams across the company in one organization, fostering innovation in this area at an even higher level. This organization will also include the semiconductor teams, who have ambitious plans for the future.

Additionally, John Browett is leaving Apple. A search for a new head of Retail is underway and in the interim, the Retail team will report directly to Tim Cook. Apple’s Retail organization has an incredibly strong network of leaders at the store and regional level who will continue the excellent work that has been done over the past decade to revolutionize retailing with unique, innovative services for customers.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.”

Stay tuned for additional changes as they become available.

Elgato releases EyeTV 3.5.6 update

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Date: Tuesday, October 30th, 2012, 06:44
Category: News, Software

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You can’t knock a useful update to a spiffy program.

Late Monday, Elgato Systems released version 3.5.6 of its EyeTV software application, which finds and tracks all television programming you want to see and allows users to pause live television and save content to file.

The update, a 138.3 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

– Improved support for OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion.

– Improved EyeTV Sharing.

– Added Retina support for the player window.

– Added support for EyeTV Micro.

– Miscellaneous bug fixes.

EyeTV 3.5.6 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.8 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.

Parallels offers warning to users looking to upgrade to Windows 8 on current virtual machines

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Date: Monday, October 29th, 2012, 06:53
Category: News, Software

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You love Parallels.

And you’re curious about Windows 8.

Just use some caution before putting that chocolate/peanut butter combination together…

Per the Apple Core, virtualization top dog Parallels has issued a warning advising users to exercise caution before upgrading existing virtual machines to Windows 8. The company has stated that the virtual machine could be damaged, thereby resulting in data loss.

The company has stated that it’s presently testing the Windows 8 upgrade and also points out that a new virtual machine should work just fine.

The only caveat is to use the very latest build of Parallels Desktop 8 to create this new virtual machine.

If you’ve tried the Windows 8 upgrade with your Parallels virtual machine, please let us know how it went in the comments section.

Apple sells out of all iPad mini models in 35 hours

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Date: Monday, October 29th, 2012, 06:06
Category: iPad, News, retail

It doesn’t matter that Amazon took the time to insult the iPad mini’s US$329 price tag, Apple still sold out of its launch inventory on all models of the new tablet.

Per AppleInsider, while it’s unknown how many iPad mini pre-order units were available, Apple seems to have sold through its entire inventory.

All iPad mini models, in black and slate as well as white and silver, in capacities from 16 gigabytes to 64 gigabytes, are all advertise to ship in two weeks. The white and silver model sold out almost immediately, while the entry 16-gigabyte black and slate iPad mini took 35 hours to sell out.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve been lucky enough to get your mitts on one, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

VirtualBox updated to 4.2.4

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Date: Monday, October 29th, 2012, 06:12
Category: News, Software

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VirtualBox, an open source x86 virtualization project available for free has just hit version 4.2.4. The new version, a 101 megabyte download, features the following fixes and changes:
– GUI: fixed validation warning on global settings / proxy page (4.2.2 regression, bug #11089).

– GUI: fixed crash with multiple guest screens on certain conditions (OS X hosts only).

– VBoxBalloonCtrl: fixed command line argument handling of ballooning module.

– VRDP: fixed occasional crash during a video playback in the guest (bug #11082).

– BIOS: fixed broken DMI information (4.2 regression).

– BIOS: workaround for booting from Windows 2000 floppy disks.

– EFI: fixed video mode selection loss on VM reboot (bug #10983).

– Parallel: fixed parallel port printing failure/ paper queue empty error (Windows hosts only; bug #2226).

– NAT: fixed crash on alias-less DNS responses when host-resolver is used.

– Storage: fixed hang under rare circumstances.

VirtualBox 4.2.4 is available for free and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

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

Mozilla releases Firefox 16.0.2 update

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Date: Monday, October 29th, 2012, 06:22
Category: News, Software

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Hey, an update’s an update.

And it’s usually a good thing.

Late last week, Mozilla.org released version 16.0.2 of its Firefox web browser. The new version, a 35 megabyte download and adds the following fixes and changes:

– Fixed a number of issues related to the Location object in order to enhance overall security.

Firefox 16.0.2 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 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.

Revised DMCA allows for unlocking of handsets, other exemptions

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Date: Friday, October 26th, 2012, 07:20
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, Legal, News, Software

There’s exceptions to every rule and some of them get pretty interesting.

Per the cool cats at Ars Technica, the Digital Millennium Copyright makes it illegal to “circumvent” digital rights management schemes. But when Congress passed the DMCA in 1998, it gave the Librarian of Congress the power to grant exemptions. The latest batch of exemptions, which will be in force for three years, were announced on Thursday.

Between now and late 2015, there will be five categories of circumvention that will be allowed under the Librarian’s rules, one fewer than the current batch of exemptions, which was announced in July 2010. The new exemptions take effect October 28.

The new batch of exemptions illustrate the fundamentally arbitrary nature of the DMCA’s exemption process. For the next three years, you’ll be allowed to jailbreak smartphones but not tablet computers. You’ll be able to unlock phones purchased before January 2013 but not phones purchased after that. It will be legal to rip DVDs to use an excerpt in a documentary, but not to play it on your iPad.

The first exemption applies to “literary works, distributed electronically, that are protected by technological measures which either prevent the enabling of read-aloud functionality or interfere with screen readers or other applications or assistive technologies.” The work must have been purchased legitimately through “customary channels,” such that “the rights owner is remunerated.”

A similar version of the exemption was offered in 2010, but that one allowed circumvention only if “all existing e-book editions of the work contain access controls” that inhibit disabled access. Disability groups urged the Librarian to drop this restriction, arguing that “despite the rapid growth of the e-book market, most e-book titles remain inaccessible due to fragmentation within the industry and differing technical standards and accessibility capabilities across platforms.” That meant that the rule effectively required disabled users to own multiple devices—a Kindle, a Nook, and an iPad, for example—in order to gain access to a full range of e-books. The Librarian accepted this argument and allowed circumvention by disabled users even if a work is available in an open format on another platform.

The new rules allow circumvention of “computer programs that enable wireless telephone handsets to execute lawfully obtained software applications, where circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of enabling interoperability of such applications with computer programs on the telephone handset.” In other words, jailbreaking is permitted for “telephone handsets,” as it was under the 2010 rules.

Unfortunately, the Librarian “found significant merit to the opposition’s concerns that this aspect of the proposed class was broad and ill-defined, as a wide range of devices might be considered ‘tablets,’ notwithstanding the significant distinctions among them in terms of the way they operate, their intended purposes, and the nature of the applications they can accommodate. For example, an e-book reading device might be considered a ‘tablet,’ as might a handheld video game device or a laptop computer.”

The Librarian ruled that “the record lacked a sufficient basis to develop an appropriate definition for the ‘tablet’ category of devices, a necessary predicate to extending the exemption beyond smartphones.”

In 2006 and 2010, the Librarian of Congress had permitted users to unlock their phones to take them to a new carrier. Now that’s coming to an end. While the new rules do contain a provision allowing phone unlocking, it comes with a crippling caveat: the phone must have been “originally acquired from the operator of a wireless telecommunications network or retailer no later than ninety days after the effective date of this exemption.”

In other words, phones you already have, as well as those purchased between now and next January, can be unlocked. But phones purchased after January 2013 can only be unlocked with the carrier’s permission.

Why the change? The Librarian cited two key factors. One is a 2010 ruling that held that when you purchase software, you don’t actually own it. Rather, you merely license it according to the terms of the End User License Agreement. The Librarian argued that this undermined the claim that unlocking your own phone was fair use.

Also, the Librarian found that there are more unlocked phones on the market than there were three years ago, and that most wireless carriers have liberal policies for unlocking their handsets. As a result, the Librarian of Congress decided that it should no longer be legal to unlock your cell phone without the carrier’s permission.

The most complicated exemption focuses on DVDs. Between now and 2015, it will be legal to rip a DVD “in order to make use of short portions of the motion pictures for the purpose of criticism or comment in the following instances: (i) in noncommercial videos; (ii) in documentary films; (iii) in nonfiction multimedia e-books offering film analysis; and (iv) for educational purposes in film studies or other courses requiring close analysis of film and media excerpts, by college and university faculty, college and university students, and kindergarten through twelfth grade educators.” A similar exemption applies for “online distribution services.”

The Librarian also allowed DVDs to be decrypted to facilitate disability access. Specifically, it’s now legal “to access the playhead and/or related time code information embedded in copies of such works and solely for the purpose of conducting research and development for the purpose of creating players capable of rendering visual representations of the audible portions of such works and/or audible representations or descriptions of the visual portions of such works to enable an individual who is blind, visually impaired, deaf, or hard of hearing, and who has lawfully obtained a copy of such a work, to perceive the work.”

But the Librarian did not allow circumvention for space-shifting purposes. While public interest groups had argued that consumers should be allowed to rip a DVD in order to watch it on an iPad that lacks a built-in DVD drive, the Librarian concluded that no court has found that such “space shifting” is a fair use under copyright law.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and, well, enjoy unlocking your handsets.

White and silver iPad minis sell out within hours of pre-order availability

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Date: Friday, October 26th, 2012, 07:57
Category: iPad, News, retail

Well, that was fast.

Per AppleInsider, just hours after the iPad mini became available to preorder at Apple’s online store, the white and silver model sold out is now advertised to ship in two weeks.

While the white model in all capacities is now sold out, as of Friday morning the black and slate version is still advertised to deliver on next Friday, Nov. 2. Cellular-capable models do not ship until mid-November.

Announced this week, the iPad mini is available in sizes of 16, 32 and 64 gigabytes. Like the iPhone 5, it’s available in black and slate, as well as white and silver.

Market watchers have big expectations for the iPad mini, with millions expected to be sold this quarter. Though many expected an entry price lower than US$329, Wall Street analysts believe the iPad mini will justify its price to consumers with superior build quality, strong software, and a huge range of third-party applications available on the iOS App Store.

The iPad mini features a 7.9-inch display and a thinner bezel that allows it to be held with one hand. It’s 7.2 millimeters thin and weighs 0.68 pounds, which is 68 percent less than the full-size iPad.

In the meantime, there’s still the black and slate model…

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPad pre-orders open up via Apple online store, retail app – Wi-Fi versions to deliver by November 2nd

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Date: Friday, October 26th, 2012, 07:19
Category: iPad, News

The iPad mini pre-orders have begun.

Per TechCrunch, Apple has Apple has launched pre-orders via its mobile app and online retail store, and shoppers can choose any version of the iPad mini or 4th generation iPad for the first batch of orders. If you want to have one in your hands next Friday, November 2, however, you’ll need to get the Wi-Fi only versions, as the Wi-Fi + Cellular editions ships at least a couple of weeks later, as Apple explained at its event this week.

For U.S. shoppers, the iPad mini with LTE ships “Mid November.” In Canada and other markets, expected lead times show estimated shipping at late November. The 4th Gen iPad also shows “Mid November” in the U.S. and simply “November” elsewhere. Apple hasn’t offered up any specific reasons why the Wi-Fi + Cellular iPads will take longer to arrive, but CEO Tim Cook did talk about the challenges of the manufacturing process for the iPad mini on Apple’s earnings call yesterday, so that could have something to do with it.

Today’s group of pre-order countries includes the U.S., Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K. A few other regions, including Bulgaria, Hungary, Iceland, Liechtentein, Puerto Rico, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, will also have the iPad for sale beginning November 2 at select retailers, but customers in those locales won’t be able to pre-order. That’s a much larger initial launch pool than the 3rd gen iPad’s 12 kick-off markets.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you get your mitts on an iPad mini in the near future, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.