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Apple releases iTunes 10.4.1 update

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Date: Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011, 02:21
Category: News, Software


Late Monday, Apple also released iTunes 10.4.1, the latest version of its multimedia/jukebox application for Mac OS X. The new version, a 90.3 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

– Fixes a problem where the media keys on some third-party keyboards work inconsistently with iTunes.

– Addresses issues with adding artwork to songs and videos.

– Resolves an issue which may cause iTunes to become unresponsive when purchasing an HD movie.

– Fixes a problem where iTunes may take longer than expected to open after waking your Mac from sleep.

– Addresses issues with VoiceOver support.

iTunes 10.4.1 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run.

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

Skype to purchase GroupMe, looks to add group texting, added conference call support to application

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Date: Monday, August 22nd, 2011, 08:59
Category: News, Software


When in doubt, try to have your software become more functional.

Per Macworld, Internet calling company Skype said Sunday that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire GroupMe, a startup that offers a free group text messaging and conference call service on mobile phones.

Skype did not disclose how much it is paying for GroupMe.

Set up in 2010, GroupMe offers its application on Apple’s iOS, Research In Motion’s BlackBerry, and phones running the Android operating system. In July the company launched a version of its application for Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7. A short message service (SMS) version for users without smartphones is also available in the U.S.

GroupMe also introduced earlier this month a new version of its application that supports direct messaging to a person in the group, and “questions” that can be directed to a few people, members of a group, or all known users, or broadcast over Twitter and Facebook. GroupMe 3.0 also allows users to manage groups, send messages, share photos, and ask questions from a website, without downloading the application.

As part of the deal with Skype, GroupMe will remain in New York, with its team intact and working on its standalone application, GroupMe said in a blog post.

GroupMe will continue to be a separate application, a Skype spokeswoman said in an email on Monday. Skype and GroupMe will work together on integration areas, she added, but did not provide details.

For Skype, which already offers voice and video services, the acquisition of GroupMe will add the ability to offer text messaging for groups as well. Through the acquisition, Skype continues its drive to provide global multi-modal and multi-platform communications, the company said.

Microsoft said in May that it has agreed to buy Skype for US$8.5 billion. Once the merger is complete, Microsoft plans to add Skype support to its Xbox and Kinect gaming devices and Windows Phone mobile operating system, and connect Skype users with its own Lync, Outlook and Xbox Live communications services.

The deal is subject to customary closing conditions and potential regulatory approvals, and will likely be closed by the end of this month, the spokeswoman said. GroupMe will continue as a separate and independent company until the transaction is closed, she added.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Onyx 2.4.0 released, now available for use with Mac OS X 10.7

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Date: Monday, August 22nd, 2011, 04:52
Category: News, Software


Onyx, Titanium Software’s popular freeware multifunction utility for Mac OS X, has been updated to version 2.4.0. The new version, a 6.6 megabyte download adds the following fixes and changes:

– New version for Mac OS X 10.7 Lion only.

Onyx 2.4.0 requires Mac OS X 10.7 or later to install and run.

HP to end webOS development, spin off computer business and focus on software/services

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Date: Friday, August 19th, 2011, 03:13
Category: News

Even the mightiest can fall.

Or be forced to radically restructure.

According to Bloomberg, Hewlett Packard, the world’s largest PC maker, has announced plans to spin off its PC business and scrap its recently acquired webOS smartphone and TouchPad tablet business to focus on software and services.

Per the report, HP “has been aiming to lessen its dependence on lower-margin PCs, where growth has stalled as consumers flock to tablet-style computers like those made by Apple.”

Recent reports have documented HP’s slide, along with most other top PC makers, in shipments of new computers as Apple continues to grow its sales of Macs and particularly iPads.

Apple was the only maker in the top 5 PC vendors of Western Europe to experience growth in computer shipments, and the company just surpassed HP in mobile PC sales, largely due to booming sales of iPads.

HP has been unable to gain traction for its own iPad alternative, despite a campaign launched last year to buy Palm for US$1.2 billion and use its webOS to power a new generation of mobile devices.

HP is scheduled to announce quarterly earnings after the market closes today, and is expected to detail its US$10 billion plan to acquire Autonomy Corporation, the second largest UK software maker, headquartered in Cambridge, as it spins off its PC hardware unit.

Autonomy develops enterprise search and data processing technologies that look for meaning in text, voice and video data, whether in a database, files or streams. Much of its technology has origins in research conducted at the University of Cambridge.

Following a series of mergers and acquisitions, HP represents a combination of Apollo, DEC, Compaq, 3Com and Palm, but is now valued at just US$62 billion, compared to Apple’s current market cap of US$338 billion.

Apple acquired HP’s vacated “Executive Briefing Center” Pruneridge campus in Cupertino, California, and has plans to develop the site, along with adjacent land it already owned, into a futuristic new “Apple Campus 2” site, located one freeway exit away from its current Infinite Loop headquarters.

AT&T to switch to unlimited and pay-per-use text messaging plans on August 21st

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Date: Friday, August 19th, 2011, 03:36
Category: iPhone, News


Well, at least this chunk of your AT&T bill might become a bit more reasonable…

Per AppleInsider, beginning August 21, new AT&T customers will only be able to choose between unlimited text messaging plans starting at US$20, or pay 20 cents for each text message and 30 cents for a picture or video message.

AT&T confirmed on Thursday that existing customers with other text messaging plans, such as US$10-per-month for 1,000 messages, will be grandfathered in. Customers who switch to a new phone will also be able to retain their old text messaging plan.

The carrier also confirmed that new AT&T customers who buy an unlimited plan starting at US$20-per-month will still receive unlimited mobile-to-mobile minutes to any other U.S. cellphone customer. The “Mobile to Any Mobile” offer launched in February, coinciding with the launch of the Verizon iPhone.

For those who opt to not buy an unlimited messaging plan, AT&T charges 20 cents per text message sent, while picture and video messages run 30 cents on a pay-per-use pricing system.

The last major change to AT&T’s plans came in 2010 just before the iPhone 4 launched. The carrier began capping new data plans at 2GB for US$25 per month, though like with the upcoming text messaging change, legacy customers with unlimited plans have been grandfathered in.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

OWC announces 8GB RAM modules for 2011 model MacBook Pro, Mac mini units

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Date: Thursday, August 18th, 2011, 07:43
Category: iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Pro, News

Ok, if there’s one computer part you sort of have to splurge on, it’s RAM.

And there’s no real argument against that.

Per MacNN, Mac outfitter Other World Computing has announced its RAM kits for the 2011 model MacBook Pro and Mac minis with its DDR3 1333MHz 8GB modules. The modules will also work with the latest model iMacs, doubling their RAM capacity to 32GB.

The company offers kits including 12GB (one 8GB module with one 4GB module) for US$500, a 16GB kit (two 8GB modules) that will max out the 2011 MacBook Pro and 2011 Mac mini, both of which only have two slots, for US$929.

Because the 27-inch iMac i5 and i7 models have four slots that take the same model of RAM, OWC offers a 24GB kit (two 8GB, two 4GB) for $1,000, and a 32GB kit (four 8GB modules) for those machines for US$1,848. The kits all use OWC’s own MaxRAM brand.

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

Skype WiFi out the door, focuses on offering cheap Internet access abroad

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Date: Thursday, August 18th, 2011, 06:44
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software


You asked for a cheap way to communicate on the road and Skype seems to have something to offer…

Per AppleInsider, Skype on Wednesday released a new iOS application that will offer iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users access to over 1 million WiFi hotspots around the globe for a nominal pay-as-you-go basis.

The Skype WiFi application offers those on the go an alternative to pricey international data plans, which can fetch around US$25 for just 20MB worth of downloads, by allowing them to connect to locally available WiFi hotspots for as little as 6 cents per minute.

Skype says it is working with a third party WiFi operators to provide access to “over 1 million WiFi hotspots around the world, including hotels, airports, train stations, convention centers, bars and restaurants,” thus eliminating extra data roaming costs or other WiFi voucher purchases.

The application itself — previously known as Skype Access — is available as a free download from the App Store, but requires that users purchase Skype Credits in order to connect to one of the supported hotspots.

Prices for access to Skype WiFi hotspots start at US$0.06/4p/€0,05 (inclusive of VAT) and there is no data cap in place, which means iPhone, iPod and iPod touch users can use the same hotspot connection without worrying about any traffic limitations.

In order to promote the app’s launch, Skype said it plans to offer up to 60 minutes (or four 15-minute sessions) of free internet access for each unique Skype ID starting Saturday, August 20, 00:00 BST until Sunday, August 21, 23:59BST.

Skype WiFi requires iOS 3.0 or later to install and run.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve tried the new app and have any feedback to offer, let us know what you think in the comments.

Delta to begin testing iPad units in “electronic flight bag” capacity for crew members

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Date: Thursday, August 18th, 2011, 06:44
Category: iPad, News

Have iPad, will travel.

Per Flightglobal, Delta Airlines has started testing iPads as electronic flight bags domestically, in order to evaluate the viability of replacing printed on-board manuals and other information with digital versions and custom iOS applications.

The airline is interested in “digitizing on-board flight information that has typically been printed out,” Flightglobal has found out, and the company will start using Apple’s iPad as an electronic flight bag (EFB) in a limited testing phase that includes 22 devices.

The iPads will be preloaded with manuals, charts, and specific iOS applications that would help pilots receive updated information or compute various calculations otherwise done by hand.

“We’re loading Jeppesen Mobile TC charting software, a GoodReader document viewer that contains all of our manuals in an electronic format, and the Journey browser, which allows access to iCrew,” Delta Senior Vice President Steve Dickson said. “A Delta Meteorology app provides access to pilot-tailored graphical weather information and real-time looped Delta radar. Each pilot will have access to their Delta e-mail account and calendar.”

Other preloaded tools include a writing app, a web browser, a PDF viewer, a Wi-Fi finder app as well as “crew rest and cruise rest period calculators.” Although all 22 iPads will have the same suite of Delta apps installed, the pilots will have the opportunity to install any additional aviation applications as required during the test period.

Delta aims to bring instant wireless communications capabilities to its flights and a tablet like the iPad could provide such capabilities to current crews and even take part in changing the training process for Delta’s pilots. During this process the company will use both Wi-Fi and 3G+Wi-Fi iPad models.

The test will check whether the iPad solution works for users who are less familiar with technology. “Roughly a quarter of our testers rated themselves as ‘tech un-savvy,'” Delta said. “We need to make sure a solution is user friendly to any pilot, no matter their IT skill level while providing us a top of the line product that gives us long term expansion capabilities.”

Domestic passengers on the airline already have access, for a fee, to Gogo Wi-Fi in-flight connectivity, and the company is also exploring adding such capabilities to its international flights.

Once the iPad testing is complete, the airline will swap Apple’s tablet with Android Honeycomb devices. 16 Motorola Xooms will then be used as EFBs in a new trial run starting with mid-September.

The FAA has already authorized the use of Apple’s iPad as EFBs. Both American Airlines and Alaska Airlines have started to replace paper manuals, which weigh as much as 40 pounds, with iPads preloaded with all the information required by pilots during flights in a similar endeavor to remove all on-board paper and use tablets containing all the required flight data instead.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve used in-air Wi-Fi before and have any feedback to offer, please let us know.

Controversy surfaces over Kagi’s VisualHub updater

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Date: Wednesday, August 17th, 2011, 11:41
Category: News, Software

There’s good news and bad news.

The good news: VisualHub, a beloved video converter utility that exported to roughly nine zillion formats but was discontinued in 2008, has been updated with support from the author.

The bad news: It apparently wasn’t updated in a way that the author, Tyler Loch, approved of. Per Macworld, Kagi, a popular payment processor for independent software developers, recently began selling a US$5 Lion-compatibility patch for the discontinued-in-2008 VisualHub video converter that Loch stated he didn’t authorize—and isn’t getting paid for. Kagi has taken steps to defend the move, arguing that it’s merely helping less tech-savvy customers that the developer abandoned.

Though Loch no longer offers support for VisualHub, Loch did post updated files and instructions for getting VisualHub to work under Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”).

After receiving complaints from customers about Lion compatibility, however, Kagi—VisualHub’s former payment processor—decided to offer its own vHub Updater for VisualHub patch for US$5, without informing Loch.

Per the article, representatives from Kagi explained that the US$5 updater Kagi now sells merely wraps the updates that Loch offers on his own site in a more usable interface. Loch’s instructions for updating VisualHub require copying a trio of AppleScript files into the app’s package contents; he also recommends installing an updated copy of the open source conversion utility ffmpeg.

The Kagi app “downloads his patches, and we also download the new ffmpeg,” installing all necessary files without additional user involvement. The updater avoids altering your original copy of VisualHub, instead creating a duplicate application called “VisualHub Lion.”

At this point, there’s a significant amount of back and forth between Loch and Kagi, representatives from Kagi stating that, with regard to the vHub Updater, “we would be pleased if Tyler was to release an updater that performs the function that our vHub Updater performs,” Nethery said. “His users deserve better than to be completely abandoned in 2008 and to be asked to be technical enough to edit an application package. We just want the customers to get the support they deserve.”

For his part, Loch pointed out that—though open-source forks of the code at the center of VisualHub exist—“VisualHub, as it exists in the world, is not. I gave no permission and had no prior knowledge of Kagi hosting, redistributing, and indirectly selling the components I wrote in [vHub Updater].”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Recent Apple patent shows move to build wireless antennas into Mac keyboards

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Date: Wednesday, August 17th, 2011, 03:46
Category: News, Patents


The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office granted Apple a batch of 20 patents on Tuesday, including one for an invention that describes integrating wireless antennas into a keyboard.

Per AppleInsider, the filing entitled “Antennas for electronic devices,” describes “key antennas,” or radio-frequency transmitters mounted inside individual keys of a keyboard, for devices such as a laptop computer. Apple suggests that fitting a key with an antenna resonating element, such as a flex circuit containing a strip of conductor, a piece of stamped metal foil and a length of wire, could serve as an improved antenna design.

Possible advantages from the invention include a more pleasing appearance by avoiding protruding antennas and reduced risk of damage to the antenna. According to the application, the antenna would function better when the key was not being pressed because of an “increase in separation” between the antenna and the conductive housing of the device.

Apple also suggests that the key antenna could include an indicator light, such as the one found on the “caps lock” key.

One embodiment of the invention would utilize the keyboard to add wireless functionality to a non-wireless device by way of a wired connection. The keyboard could also be used to extend wireless capabilities of another device after being wirelessly coupled with it.

The invention lists Wi-Fi and Bluetooth as possible communications methods, though it also references the use of the patent with “other types of communications links,” such as GPS and 3G data.

Apple filed for the patent on Apr. 2, 2008. Chris Ligtenberg, Brett William Degner and Douglas Blake Kough are credited as the inventors.