Google unveils new 3D mapping feature for iOS, Android devices

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Date: Wednesday, June 6th, 2012, 10:05
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

You can’t knock a kickass 3D mapping system, especially when it’s on your iPhone or iPad.

Google on Wednesday unveiled what it has promoted as the “next dimension” of its Maps service, with new full 3D renderings that were demonstrated live on an Apple iPad.

Google has been using automated technology to extract data from aerial models captured by airplanes owned by the company. With planes flying overhead in tightly controlled patterns snapping pictures, Google can use the imagery and data to create three-dimensional mapping imagery.

Images of the ground are snapped from 45 degrees at four angles, and those pictures and data can be combined to recreate maps in three dimensions. The whole process allows 3D maps to be built without human interaction, unlike with previous 3D imagery in Google Earth.

In a live event on Wednesday, Google demonstrated 3D models of individual buildings and entire cities. The new features were shown off to members of the press on an Apple iPad, rather than an Android-based tablet.

The company promised that its new 3D imagery will be coming to both iOS and Android devices “in the coming weeks.” The technology will be part of both the Google Maps service, as well as its Google Earth application.

By the end of the year, Google expects to have communities home to about 300 million people mapped in its new space.

Google also revealed that it will bring an offline version of its Maps software to Android devices. The company said it is “working very hard” to bring offline Maps to iOS as well, but did not offer any more information.

Wednesday’s media event comes just five days before Apple is set to hold its own keynote address at the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference. There, Apple is expected to unveil an all-new version of its Maps software for iOS that will ditch Google Maps.

Apple’s mapping intentions have been evident since at least 2009, when the company began acquiring mapping technology companies. The iPhone maker bought Placebase that year and then Poly9 in 2010. Last year, Apple bought Swedish 3D-mapping company C3.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google Chrome updated to 19.0.1084.54

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Date: Wednesday, June 6th, 2012, 06:27
Category: News, Software


Google Chrome, Google’s new web browser, just reached version 19.0.1084.54 for the Mac. The new version, a 38.6 megabyte download, offers the following changes:

– Supports the Mac transition to OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion.

Google Chrome 19.0.1084.54 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.

Cocktail updated to 5.3.1

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Date: Wednesday, June 6th, 2012, 06:18
Category: News, Software


On Thursday, shareware developer Maintain released version 5.3.1 of CocktailCocktail (Lion Edition), the popular shareware utility program that allows for additional Mac OS X system tests. The new version, a 3.1 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

– Added “Disable automatic termination of applications” setting (Interface – General).

– Added “Enable text copying from Quick Look” setting (Interface – Finder).

– Addresses an issue in which Cocktail may fail to create a Keychain key.

– Addresses an issue in which the Firewall log may not be rotated.

– Addresses an issue in which the “Disable local snapshots” Time Machine setting may not work properly.

Cocktail 5.3.1 retails for a US$19.00 shareware registration fee and requires Mac OS X 10.7 or later to install and run.

Virgin Mobile to offer prepaid wireless plan for iPhone in July

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Date: Tuesday, June 5th, 2012, 14:16
Category: iPhone, News

No one ever said that prepaid was out of vogue.

Per MarketWatch, Sprint’s Virgin Mobile USA will become the second American carrier to offer Apple’s iPhone without a service contract, according to a new report.

Virgin Mobile’s addition of the iPhone to its product lineup will be announced later this week. The iPhone will debut on Virgin Mobile as soon as July 1.

The deal could go toward the US$15.5 billion in iPhones Sprint has committed to sell over a four-year span. The company pledged to buy the iPhones last year in a deal that brought the iPhone to Sprint, which is the third-largest carrier in the U.S.

Last week, it was announced that Cricket Wireless would become the first prepaid carrier to sell a contract-free iPhone in the U.S. on June 22. Cricket will offer the 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S for US$500 along with an “unlimited” US$55-per-month plan.

But Cricket will only sell the iPhone in smaller markets where the brand is available, while Virgin would make the iPhone more widely available to prepaid customers. The Virgin service, which uses Sprint’s network, covers 278 million people.

The price for a prepaid iPhone through Virgin was not revealed, but the carrier has prepaid plans that begin at US$35 a month for “unlimited” capped data. Tuesday’s report said it was “unclear” whether the iPhone would be compatible with those plans.

Apple began expanding the iPhone to regional carriers last October with C Spire wireless, while more were added in April and again in May of this year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Parallels Desktop updated to 7.0.15095

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Date: Tuesday, June 5th, 2012, 14:21
Category: News, Software


On Thursday, Parallels released version 7.0.15095 of its Parallels Desktop virtualization software. The new update, a 306 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Support for Windows 8 Release Preview (experimental).

– Download and install Windows 8 Release Preview right from the Parallels Wizard.

Parallels Desktop 7 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.

Apple TV 5.0.2 update goes live

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Date: Tuesday, June 5th, 2012, 13:28
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

Apple on Tuesday updated its Apple TV software to version 5.0.2 for second and third generation units.

Per AppleInsider, the Apple TV Software Update, released as build 9B830, brings unknown fixes to both the second and third generation set-top media streamers. Apple’s support web page has yet to divulge the contents of the update, but a more detailed description should be posted in the near future.

The quick download showed no visible changes to the UI or content meaning that the update may be a fix for backend performance issues or preparation for as-yet unreleased features set to be announced at WWDC next week.

To install the new 5.0.2 version on your Apple TV, navigate to the “Update Software” menu option under Settings > General.

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

And if anything caught fire or the dog proposed to the cat as a result of the 5.0.2 update, please let us know in the comments.

Belkin previews Thunderbolt Express Dock, offers September release date

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Date: Tuesday, June 5th, 2012, 07:50
Category: Hardware, News

Thunderbolt came out last year, now it’s time for the nifty peripherals.

Per Engadget, Belkin is showing off new upgrades to its Thunderbolt Express Dock even before it’s hit store shelves. The new upgrade brings three USB 3.0 ports, ditching the aging USB 2.0 ports that were shown off in the version at this year’s CES. An eSata port was also added, bringing a significant US$100 price hike on the updated version, making it US$399.

Overall, the Thunderbolt Express Dock features 3 USB 3.0 ports, 1 FireWire 800 port, 1 Gigabit Ethernet port, 1 eSata port, 1 3.5mm-out port, 1 3.5mm-in port, 2 Thunderbolt ports (1 upstream, 1 downstream for daisy-chaining up to 6 additional Thunderbolt devices), and a MiniDP to HDMI Adapter. Additionally, Belkin announced a US$44.99 Thunderbolt cable that is 3-feet long and can daisy chain up to six devices. Yesterday, Matrox announced a Thunderbolt dock priced at US$249, and while it doesn’t have as many ports, it is a lot cheaper — and looks more retro.

Perhaps most importantly, Belkin also offers another Thunderbolt port so you can daisy chain up-to six more Thunderbolt parts to your rig. The Dock launches in September, while the cable launches in July.

In other Thunderbolt news, Drobo has teased new Thunderbolt-powered arrays that are set to be shown off at this year’s Computex. With Thunderbolt, Drobo says it has the “potential to provide a 10x increase in performance.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T CEO states data-only plans could become “inevitable” with next 24 months

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Date: Monday, June 4th, 2012, 13:20
Category: iPhone, News


One day, AT&T will provide something for everyone.

Per the Associated Press, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said on Friday that data-only wireless phone plans are likely to arrive within the next two years, marking a dramatic shift away from traditional cell network usage toward VoIP and text-as-data solutions like Apple’s iMessage.

Speaking at an investors conference, Stephenson said that while AT&T had no plans in place to offer an all-data subscription model, the industry is trending in that direction as smartphones continue to gain popularity led by Apple’s iPhone and handsets running Google’s Android mobile operating system, reports the Associated Press.

“I’ll be surprised if, in the next 24 months, we don’t see people in the market place with data-only plans,” Stephenson said. “I just think that’s inevitable.”

Under a data-centric plan users would have to use VoIP solutions like Skype to hold voice conversations, changing Internet calling into a necessity rather than an option to save on billed minutes. The switch would also be disruptive to the installed system in which telecoms monetize voice calls by charging each other to connect to cellphone numbers. This is one of the reasons why voice and data charges are billed separately.

Stephenson recently bemoaned AT&T’s decision to offer unlimited data with the original iPhone and iPad, adding that Apple’s iMessage is also a source of concern because it takes away from the company’s texting revenue.

While it may seem ironic that texting is quickly moving the industry away from voice technology toward a style of communication seen in pagers during the 1990’s, the reality is that modern data exchanges offer a much richer and more immediate experience than their obsolescent counterparts. Smartphones give users the ability to be in constant contact with each other, and new data-driven apps like Sounder literally keep an open connection to friends and peers.

As telecoms move to 4G LTE, an increasing amount of consumers will use an increasing amount of limited bandwidth which could force carriers to raise prices or find alternative solutions.

For now, AT&T is hoping to introduce a shared data plan similar to how the company offers shared voice plans for families. The initiative is a long time coming and the carrier has been “working on it” for over a year, presumably to find a way to implement such a service without losing profits.

With shared data plans essentially representing a discount for users that would normally buy separate plans for each device they owned, the prospect of the pricing structure would seemingly be damaging to telecoms’ bottom lines. Stephenson pointed out that AT&T is looking to make more money from shared data, not less.

When you have millions of devices such as tablets that lack cellular data plans, Stephenson said, “it seems to me it’s a lift, not a deterioration” to get them connected. The chief executive is referring to users who may not be using the cellular capabilities of their iPads or other tablets and are instead operating solely on Wi-Fi.

To make data plan pricing more attractive to consumers Stephenson noted that the wireless industry will experiment with charging content providers for the data used to access their websites in a type of “800 toll-free number” system. Critics say this would give the upper hand to well-established companies that can afford to pay the instituted subsidy and squelch competition from cash-poor startups. The experiment will likely start within the year, though it is unknown which carriers will be taking part in the initiative.

“It’s not us going out and mandating this. The content guys are coming in asking for it,” Stephenson said. “If you don’t allow those kinds of models to flourish, you’re going to inhibit the potential of these services.”

Something for everyone somewhere down the line.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Matrox releases DS1, allows Thunderbolt-equipped Macs and PC notebooks desktop range of ports

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Date: Monday, June 4th, 2012, 05:17
Category: Hardware, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, Peripheral

You can’t knock a good peripheral device.

Per AppleInsider, Matrox on Sunday unveiled its new DS1 Thunderbolt docking station, which allows users to add multiple peripherals like an HDMI display, a full-size keyboard and a mouse to a Thunderbolt-equipped Mac or PC and will be available this September for US$249.

The DS1 also includes a gigabit Ethernet port that provides connectivity to wired corporate networks at data transfers 18 times faster than Wi-Fi. In addition, it has a high-speed USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, a microphone input, and a speaker/headphone output, all of which can connect to a Thunderbolt MacBook or Ultrabook with just one cable.

The Matrox DS1 will be showcased at the Computex Taipei 2012 event at Intel’s official booth, located at M0410 in the NanGang Exhibition Hall.

Also set to arrive in September is Belkin’s Thunderbolt Express Dock, which was announced earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show. It will also turn a Thunderbolt-equipped Mac into a full-fledged desktop workstation with an HDMI port, FireWire 800 port, three USB 2.0 ports, a 3.5-millimeter audio port, one gigabit Ethernet port, and two Thunderbolt ports for daisy-chaining to another Thunderbolt device.

Apple also offers the Thunderbolt Display, which lets users plug in one 10Gbps Thunderbolt cable to drive a monitor, three USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 800 port, one Gigabit Ethernet port, and a Thunderbolt port for daisy chaining up to five additional Thunderbolt devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Mozilla releases Firefox 13.0 update

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Date: Monday, June 4th, 2012, 05:06
Category: News, Software


On Monday, released version 13.0 of its Firefox web browser. The new version, a 30.7 megabyte download and adds the following fixes and changes:

When opening a new tab, users are now presented with their most visited pages.

– The default home page now has quicker access to bookmarks, history, settings, and more.

– SPDY protocol now enabled by default for faster browsing on supported sites.

– Restored background tabs are not loaded by default for faster startup.

– Smooth scrolling is now enabled by default.

– 72 total improvements to Page Inspector, HTML panel, Style Inspector, Scratchpad and Style Editor.

– The column-fill CSS property has been implemented.

– Experimental support for ECMAScript 6 Map and Set objects has been implemented.

– Support for the CSS3 background-position property extended syntax has been added.

– The :invalid pseudo-class can now be applied to the element

– The CSS turn unit is now supported.

Firefox 13.0 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.