Apple release iTunes 11, offers new features, simplified interface

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Date: Friday, November 30th, 2012, 07:56
Category: News, Software

On Thursday, Apple released version 11.0 of its iTunes multimedia/jukebox application. The new version, a 200.4 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Completely Redesigned: iTunes makes it more fun to explore and enjoy your music, movies, and TV shows. You’ll love the beautiful edge-to-edge design, custom designs for each album, movie, or TV show in your library, and getting personal recommendations any time you click in the Store.

– A New Store: The iTunes Store has been completely redesigned and now features a clean look that makes it simpler than ever to see what’s hot and discover new favorites.

– Play purchases from iCloud: Your music, movie, and TV show purchases in iCloud now appear inside your library. Just sign-in with your Apple ID to see them. Double-click to play them directly from iCloud or download a copy you can sync to a device or play while offline.

– Up Next: It’s now simple to see which songs are playing next, all from a single place. Just click the Up Next icon in the center display and they’ll instantly appear. You can even reorder, add, or skip songs whenever you like.

– New MiniPlayer: You can now do a whole lot more with a lot less space. In addition to showing what’s playing, MiniPlayer now includes album art, adds Up Next, and makes it easy to search for something new to play all from a smaller and more elegant design.

– Improved search: It’s never been easier to find what you’re looking for in iTunes. Just type in the search field and you’ll instantly see results from across your entire library. Select any result and iTunes takes you right to it.

– Playback syncing: iCloud now remembers your place in a movie or TV show for you. Whenever you play the same movie or episode from your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Apple TV, it will continue right where you left off.

iTunes 11.0 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later to install and run.

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

Apple exploring wireless charging, over-the-air electricity technology

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Date: Thursday, November 29th, 2012, 08:01
Category: News, Patents

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This could lead to something interesting.

Per FreePatentsOnline, a new patent application reveals Apple’s interest in a “realistic and practical approach” to wireless power, providing over-the-air electricity to low-power devices within a distance of one meter.

Apple’s interest in wireless charging technology was detailed in a new patent application published this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Entitled “Wireless Power Utilization in a Local Computing Environment,” it describes a system that would rely on “near-field magnetic resonance” to provide power to nearby devices.

Apple’s filing notes that transferring power wirelessly has historically been successful only in fairly limited applications. Specifically, the technology requires a power source and receiver located very close to each other.

This method may be acceptable for devices that require a very small amount of electricity. But Apple says this process is not acceptable for devices that require between a few watts to hundreds of watts.

However, Apple noted that electricity can be transferred from a power source to a receiver within a “near field,” or a distance a few times larger than both objects involved in the transfer. In most scenarios, this near field would be about a meter large.

“In this way, a realistic and practical approach to wireless transferring useable amounts of power over distances suitable for limited applications can be realized,” the filing reads.

By adopting wireless charging technology, Apple could minimize or eliminate what it referred to as “unwieldy” existing chargers that must be plugged into the wall.

Apple’s system goes one step further than the near field, and aims to improve efficiency when transferring electricity wirelessly. It would also allow a number of peripheral devices to be charged wirelessly within the near field, thanks to “cooperation” between them.

Apple’s charging accessory would be able to provide electricity to a number of devices located within the near field, or “virtual charging area.” Low-power devices cited by Apple include a mouse and keyboard.

The power supply transmitter could be a stand-alone device, or it could be embedded in an existing device such as a desktop or notebook computer. The transmitter could also be portable, such as a dongle that could be connected to a legacy device via a port like USB.

Peripheral devices would need to be tuned to the appropriate frequency. This would allow them to receive power from the near-field magnetic resonance (or NFMR) power supply.

“The device being brought into the range of the NFMR power supply can communicate its initial presence using a standard communication protocol such as WiFi or Bluetooth,” the application reads. “However, once incorporated into the resonance circuit, the device can use a communication back channel.”

Apple’s application also describes the use of a “re-resonator” that would allow electricity to be wirelessly shared between multiple accessories. In one example, a Mac desktop may not be able to adequately provide power to a wireless mouse because of an obstacle interfering with the connection between the two devices.

“In this case, (the) keyboard can act as a re-resonator such that a portion of the power delivered to (the) keyboard from the NFMR power supply can be passed on by way of a re-resonator transmission unit,” the filing states.

Apple’s patent filing for a wireless charging system, published this week by the USPTO, was first filed by the company in November of 2010. The proposed invention is credited to Michael F. Culbert, Brett. C. Bilbrey, David I. Simon, and Peter M. Arnold.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPhone 5 supply stabilizes, units now readily available for holiday shopping season

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Date: Thursday, November 29th, 2012, 07:41
Category: iPhone, News, retail

It took a while and there were muchos conflicts with Foxconn, but it finally happened: Apple’s iPhone 5 supply chain has stabilized.

Per AppleInsider, the popular iPhone 5 handset is now readily available in the U.S. at Apple’s brick-and-mortar retail stores as the company has apparently overcome supply issues experienced since the device was launched in September.

While the Apple online store still shows one-week ship-by dates, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said a poll of 20 U.S. Apple Stores reveals the iPhone 5 is readily available at physical Apple Stores for the first time since the unit was released at the end of September.

“We believe the iPhone 5 has finally reached a point where consumers can walk into an Apple Store and walk out with a phone,” Munster said in a note to investors on Thursday.

The analyst performs a nightly check with the online Apple Store for local pick-up orders half an hour after new stock arrives at 100 locations. He also noted that 20 out of 20 Apple Stores polled showed availability for Verizon models, the supply of which has been the most constrained out of the three major U.S. carriers.

“The bottom line is that AT&T, Sprint and Verizon are consistently showing 90%+ availability,” Munster wrote.

A similar report earlier this month showed that, while inventory of Sprint versions of the Phone 5 was improving, models supported by AT&T and Verizon’s networks were still seeing constraints.

Going further, Munster maintains his estimate of 45 million iPhone shipments for the fourth quarter, but warns that there may not be a significant upside as supply is only now meeting demand.

According to a recent report, the iPhone 5 helped to double Apple’s share of the U.S. smartphone market, pushing it ahead of worldwide leader Android.

Parallels Desktop updated to 8.0.18345

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Date: Thursday, November 29th, 2012, 07:09
Category: News, Software

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On Thursday, Parallels released version 8.0.18345 of its Parallels Desktop virtualization software. The new update, a 319 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Option to disable edge swipe gestures in Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012, for those who often accidentally swipe from the edges of the touchpad and activate features.

– Improved connectivity to the Internet via a proxy-server.

Parallels Desktop 8 retails for US$79.99 and requires a 64-bit Intel-based processor, Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later, 2GB of RAM (4GB recommended to run Windows 7), at least 700 MB of space available on the boot volume for Parallels Desktop installation and 15 GB of available disk space for Windows.

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

How-to: How to get around “Black Screen of Death” on dual-GPU MacBook Pro notebooks

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Date: Wednesday, November 28th, 2012, 10:50
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

Ok, this could be useful.

Per the mighty Topher Kessler of CNET, a workaround has been found for MacBook users who noticed a pretty annoying black-screen bug on their systems, in which the computer would appear to be running but would not show any output on the display. To get around this issue, people were forced to restart their systems, losing any unsaved data.

The primary workaround for this problem was to use the third-party GPU manager utility gfxCardStatus to force the system to use only one of its available GPUs, to avoid the automatic switching between the graphics cards that was leading to the problem. While the increased use of the more powerful dedicated GPU drained the battery a little more, it did avoid the problem for many.

Take a gander here for the full article and if this has been driving you nuts, rest assured that it drove other MacBook Pro users up the wall as well.

Rumor: Video lends support to Retina Display-ready version of Photoshop to be released on December 11th

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Date: Wednesday, November 28th, 2012, 09:35
Category: News, Software

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This could lead to something useful.

Per Mac Otakara, an announcement on Adobe’s website regarding the company’s upcoming “Create Now Live” contains a video> that appears to show a Retina Display MacBook Pro running Photoshop CS6, suggesting the photo editing software will finally be getting native high-resolution screen support.

The embedded video shows a MacBook Pro with Retina display running Photoshop CS6 in what looks to be the laptop’s native Hi-DPI screen resolution.

The most telling evidence is the screenshot above, which clearly shows incredibly smooth font and mouse cursor reproduction indicative of the MacBook’s Retina display.

In August, Adobe announced that it would be bringing support for both Lightroom 4 and Photoshop CS6 by the end of the year. Adobe released Lightroom 4.3 earlier in November with support for both the 13-inch and 15-inch Retina-toting MacBook Pro models.

Adobe is slated to kick off “Create Now Live” on Dec. 11, with a keynote from Vice President of Products Jeffrey Veen. Among the topics of discussion will be new Creative Cloud features and design talks from industry professionals.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available. And hey, a Retina Display version of Photoshop…how can that possibly NOT rock?

iOS 6 Maps chief Richard Williamson fired, Cue reportedly “racing” to apply fixes to app

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Date: Wednesday, November 28th, 2012, 09:24
Category: iOS, News, Software

Sometimes a few heads have to roll.

Per Bloomberg, Apple has reportedly fired the executive in charge of its widely ridiculed Maps application built in to the iOS 6 mobile operating system.

Richard Williamson, who oversaw Maps in iOS 6, was let go by Apple, according to “people familiar with the move.” Williamson was reportedly fired by Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president and the new man responsible for both iOS Maps and Siri following an executive shakeup last month.

As Cue looks to improve Maps in iOS, he is said to be seeking out advice from mapping technology experts outside of Apple. In addition, Cue is also said to be encouraging its partner TomTom to “fix landmark and navigation data it shares with Apple.”

“In removing Williamson, Cue wants to install a new leadership team for the group, one person said,” author Adam Satariano reported. “A replacement for Williamson wasn’t immediately known.”

In other news, executive Eddy Cue is reportedly “racing to turn around the troubled service,” according to a report published by Bloomberg on Wednesday.

Cue also has a history with Jobs, and Wednesday’s report referred to him as a “close confidant” of the late CEO. For years he has overseen Apple’s iTunes and iCloud services, but his role expanded last month as part of an executive shakeup at the company.

Apple releases Thunderbolt Firmware Update 1.1 for mid-2012 MacBook Pro notebooks

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Date: Wednesday, November 28th, 2012, 08:32
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

This could come in handy.

Late Tuesday, Apple released its Thunderbolt Firmware Update 1.1, a 468 kilobyte download for the mid-2012 MacBook Pros that offers the following fixes and changes:

– Addresses an issue with MacBook Pro (mid-2012) and some Thunderbolt cables that may prevent bus-powered Thunderbolt devices from functioning properly.

The firmware update can be downloaded directly or located, snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and requires a mid-2012 MacBook Pro, running Mac OS X 10.7.4 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any changes, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Next-gen iMac to go on sale Friday, November 30th

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Date: Tuesday, November 27th, 2012, 08:19
Category: Hardware, iMac, News, retail

If you’re hankering for the new, thinner iMac, just wait 72 hours.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday announced that its all-new iMac desktop will launch this Friday, Nov. 30, meeting its deadline to launch before the end of the month.

The 21.5-inch model will be available through Apple’s online store, Apple retail stores and select authorized resellers. The 27-inch variety will begin shipping in December, but orders will begin at Apple’s online store on Friday.

The 21.5-inch iMac will feature a 2.7-gigahertz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor and Nvidia GeForce G6 640M graphics for a suggested retail price of US$1,299. A faster 2.9-gigahertz model will be offered for US$1,499.

The larger 27-inch iMac will have a 2.9-gigahertz quad-core Intel Core i5 and GeForce GTX 660M graphics for US$1,799. The high-end 3.2-gigahertz model with GTX 675MX graphics will cost US$1,999.

The redesigned iMac has an aluminum and glass enclosure that is 5-millimeters thin at its edge. It also features a reengineered display that Apple has said reduces reflections by 75 percent.

The new iMac also sports 8 gigabytes of 1,600-megahertz memory, along with a 1-terabyte hard drive and standard Intel Core i5 processors that can be upgraded to a Core i7. The new Nvidia GeForce graphics processors also promise up to 60 percent fast performance.

The all-in-one iMac desktops also sport Apple’s new hybrid Fusion Drive, which gives customers the performance of flash with the capacity of a hard drive. This is accomplished by combining 128 gigabytes of flash with a standard hard drive, creating a single storage volume that intelligently manages files to optimize read and write performance.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases first OS X 10.8.3 beta, inclusion of AMD Radeon 7000 drivers hints at next-gen Mac Pro

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Date: Tuesday, November 27th, 2012, 07:31
Category: Hardware, Mac Pro, News, Software

This could turn into something really interesting.

Per Netkas.org, Apple’s first beta of OS X 10.8.3 has quietly added support for the AMD Radeon HD 7000 series of graphics cards, hinting that they could be featured in the company’s designed Mac Pro desktop.

Support for the AMD Radeon HD 7XXX series was discovered by Netkas.org this week, following the launch of the first beta of OS X 10.8.3. Specifically, the Mac operating system supports the Radeon HD 7900 series, codenamed “Tahiti,” which includes the Radeon HD 7970 and 7950.

Both of those cards feature 3 gigabytes of GDDR5 memory, and are based on a 28-nanometer chip manufacturing process. The cards are the first products to feature AMD’s “Graphics Core Next” compute architecture.

Support for the dedicated desktop graphics card series could signal that AMD’s latest GPUs may be headed for an updated Mac Pro. Apple’s lone tower computer was quietly updated in June with a modest speed bump featuring a two-year-old Intel Xeon E5645 chip.

After users expressed frustration over that update, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook quickly confirmed that his company was working on an overhaul of the Mac Pro. He indicated that the updated desktop would be released sometime in 2013.

“Don’t worry as we’re working on something really great for next year,” Cook said to a customer in an e-mail.

Signs of a sixth-generation Mac Pro appeared in internal configuration files found in the Mountain Lion operating system earlier this year. The “MP60” is expected to be a significant overhaul of the current Mac Pro model, which has had the same basic aluminum box design introduced for the 2005 PowerMac G5.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.