AT&T Releases Mark the Spot App to Help Report Network Troubles

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Date: Tuesday, December 8th, 2009, 07:59
Category: iPhone, News

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On Monday, wireless carrier AT&T released its Mark the Spot application, a free app which allows users to report any network shortfalls or missed calls on their iPhone.

The application requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later to install and run.

Now whether AT&T will actually pay attention to the network issues reported via the app, that’s another story…

Apple Purchases Lala Streaming Service, Analyst Predicts Steps Towards Mobile iTunes Content

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Date: Monday, December 7th, 2009, 07:39
Category: iTunes, News

Apple’s purchase of the Lala streaming music service could set up an infrastructure for iTunes content and purchases to be accessed from multiple locations via a Web browser, one analyst has predicted.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Maynard J. Um of UBS Investment Research stated in a note that the purchase of Lala supports the idea that Apple is building a cloud-based system to allow access of content across all of its products on Monday morning. The purchase could tie in to Apple’s $1 billion server farm project which found a home in North Carolina this past summer.

“We believe the Lala acquisition fits into our view that Apple is building a data center for a service to provide seamless access & mobility of digital content across all of its products, including media-focused content of iTunes and user-generated content of MobileMe,” Um said. “Lala gives Apple browser/Web-based technology to access music anywhere.”

Apple made its first integration between the browser and iTunes in November, when iTunes Preview was quietly released. Links generated via iTunes direct to a Web site that gives customers the option to view content without launching Apple’s desktop media suite. Previously, users who did not have iTunes installed were prompted to do so in order to view content.

Apple’s purchase of Lala was confirmed last week, though the terms of the agreement have not been revealed. The , Palo Alto, California-based company has a catalog of over 8 million songs, and allows users to match songs on their PCs to its licensed content, and then play them anywhere on the Web through a browser. DRM-free songs can be downloaded for about 89 cents, while Web-only streams are about 10 cents.

“Lala also allows users to browse friends’ collections, create/listen to playlists, & get updates when new or recommended music is added to their sites,” Um said. “The service is similar to Apple’s Genius feature except driven by real people (vs. algorithms).”

He believes that the purchase of Lala will widen Apple’s “halo” that draws consumers to purchase Apple products. By allowing iTunes content to be more easily accessed across a variety of Apple-branded devices, the purchase could further future hardware sales.

In October, Lala, along with iLike, entered a partnership with Google to allow users to quickly discover song previews, artist info, pictures, video and more. Currently, Google searches for artists or songs can return a full, streaming, embedded song at the top of results, courtesy of Lala.

Apple to Launch Second Annual “12 Days of Christmas” Giveaway for European iTunes Store

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Date: Friday, December 4th, 2009, 05:07
Category: News

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If you’re in Europe, you have a reason to be slightly smug this month. Per Macworld UK, Apple is once again offering a selection of free downloads as the iTunes 12 Days of Christmas promotion starts for a second year.

The 12 Days of Christmas free giveaway runs from December 26th to January 6th when each download will be available for just 24 hours. Last year the offer included “rare singles, live tracks and free music videos” with music from Katy Perry, Lily Allen and The Ting Tings.

iPhone apps, free TV shows, movies and music videos are expected to be amongst the free offerings this year.

Users can also receive email alerts for each free offer from 26 Dec by entering their details at www.itunes12daysofchristmas.co.uk.

No word has been released yet as to whether there will be an American version of this offer.

Rumor: Intel to Release Three New Arrandale Processors for Notebooks on January 3rd, 2010

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Date: Thursday, December 3rd, 2009, 06:52
Category: News

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It came from Rumorville, but it’s a good rumor, so hang on in there.

Fudzilla is reporting that Intel is planning on launching three Arrandale-based processors on January 3rd, 2010. These Arrandale processors are based on the advanced Nehalem architecture first introduced into desktop Macs earlier this year, and should represent a significant performance improvement over the Core 2 Duo processors that are currently found in Apple’s MacBook Pros.

The new processors will be branded under the “Core i5″ and “Core i7″ names and range from 2.4GHz to 2.66GHz with prices ranging from US$225 to US$332 in quantities of 1,000. Their TDP (thermal design power usage) of 35W as “not so attractive”, as it matches up with the current high-end processors used in the MacBook Pro and implies that Apple could use these processors in a new MacBook Pro update.

These new processors are said to eventually arrive in low-voltage variants that will also make them suitable for ultra-thin notebooks such as the MacBook Air.

Kaufman Bros. Analyst Predicts Apple, Verizon Alliance Less Likely Than Anticipated

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Date: Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009, 06:27
Category: iPhone, News

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Even if Apple is striking a deal with Verizon (currently the largest carrier in the U.S.), competitors T-Mobile and Sprint might be more likely to carry the iPhone in 2010, one analyst believes. Per AppleInsider, Verizon is the top prize in terms of the four major U.S. carriers. Apple is currently in an exclusive deal with the No. 2 carrier, AT&T, which has 82 million customers. But that agreement is believed by many to expire in 2010.

In a new note to investors Wednesday morning, analyst Shaw Wu with Kaufman Bros. said although many believe the iPhone will come to Verizon in 2010, it’s likely wishful thinking. The problem, he said, is both Verizon and Apple have found success by focusing on “customer control.” Their similarities are what he believes will keep them apart.

“Apple runs its own App Store and VZ has aspirations to do so,” Wu said. “Apple controls the media experience with iTunes and VZ with its V CAST service. Moreover, Apple gets very favorable economics with an overall iPhone (average selling price) of US$611 and at AT&T, we estimate it is higher at roughly US$700. RIM, who is by far VZ’s largest smart phone supplier, only has an ASP of $340. Palm’s ASP is US$436 and we estimate Motorola’s Droid ASP is roughly US$450.”

Because Apple and Verizon have conflicting interests, Wu said he believes that a deal between the two companies would take longer than many currently expect. That would make a potential 2010 deal unlikely.

Instead, Wu said that Apple could strike deals with both Sprint, which has 48 million wireless subscribers, and T-Mobile, which has 33 million customers. Both companies are more likely to be agreeable with Apple’s practices in order to offer the iPhone.

“While we believe VZ is likely inevitable at some point when 4G technology rolls out in 2012 or so, we believe Sprint and/or T-Mobile are more willing partners for Apple in helping maintain margins and customer controls,” he said. “From a technology perspective, we believe T-Mobile may have an advantage with a similar 3G UMTS/WCDMA network as AT&T.”

This marks the second time this week an analyst has predicted Apple will jump to T-Mobile in 2010. In terms of technology, T-Mobile would be the simplest choice: Though carrier’s high-speed 3G connectivity operates on a unique 1700MHz spectrum that is incompatible with the current iPhone, the addition of that frequency to a future hardware model would be much simpler than adding compatibility with Verizon or Sprint’s CDMA networks.

Recent rumors have suggested Apple is working on an agreement with chip maker Qualcomm to add CDMA connectivity to a new iPhone in 2010. But both Verizon and Sprint use a technology that, unlike the GSM network of AT&T and T-Mobile, is not widely used abroad.

Another possibility noted by Wu is that Apple could extend its contract with AT&T through 2011. The analyst said he believes AT&T’s agreement ends in the summer of 2010, but a last-minute extension remains a possibility. Earlier this year, there were reports that AT&T was working to extend the contract with Apple for one more year.

Apple Takes Control of “TabletMac” Trademark

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Date: Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009, 06:56
Category: News

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A few years ago, Axiotron began to offer an aftermarket modification for the MacBook notebook that converted it into a tablet. The modification remains for sale at US$699 and takes a stock MacBook, removes the keyboard and screen, and adds a Wacom pen-based screen to give the device a tablet form factor.

During this process, Axiotron originally began marketing the devices as a “TabletMac” as referenced in this 2007 press release and filed a trademark for the term. Sometime in the past year, however, the trademark was transferred from Axiotron to Apple, and Apple is now listed as the owner of the trademark.

Per MacRumors, the transfer of ownership may not mean Apple has plans on using the term for their own long-anticipated tablet device. Apple may have simply contested the trademark due to the potential for confusion between “TabletMac” and their own trademarks.

Even so, the trademark has now been snagged and Apple may be drawing some lines in the sand as to product identification in the upcoming consumer market.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and let us know what you think!

Google Chrome Beta Nearing, Some Features on Hold

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Date: Tuesday, December 1st, 2009, 08:04
Category: News, Software

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If you’re waiting for Google’s Chrome browser for the Mac, a stable beta may not be that far away.

Yesterday, TechCrunch pointed to to a Twitter posting from Mike Pinkerton of the Chrome for Mac team noting that there were only eight bugs remaining to be addressed before the Mac beta of Chrome is ready for its launch expected for some time in the next month.

“8 remaining M4 Mac beta blockers! Go team! #chrome”

This means that there are only 8 things standing in the way of Chrome for Mac going beta. “M4″ stands for “milestone 4,” which is how they phrase “version 4,” which the Mac beta build of Chrome will be (the current dev channel version is 4.0.249.12, for example).

So far, the following features have been pushed out to the next beta version in order to allow Google to meet its goal of releasing the initial beta before the end of the year:

- Bookmark Manager

- App Mode (allows Chrome to run Web apps in their own simplified windows)

- Task Manager

- Gears (offline support for Web apps; apparently being scrapped entirely in favor of HTML5)

- Bookmark syncing

- Multi-touch gestures

- 64-bit support

- Full support for extensions

- Full screen mode (possibly)

Developer builds of Chrome for Mac have been available for several months, but the move to a beta version suggests that users can expect to see a fairly stable browser with a number of significant features included. Work will continue on Chrome with additional Developer Preview releases occurring on a regular basis. Refined versions will then periodically be released as new additions to Chrome’s Beta channel. Releases will eventually make their way to Chrome’s “Stable” channel, which will offer “rock solid” performance without the inclusion of features still under development and testing.

BBC Quashes iPlayer App Rumor

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Date: Tuesday, December 1st, 2009, 08:50
Category: iPhone, News

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The BBC network has moved to quash reports that a native iPhone BBC iPlayer application is in the works. Per Macworld UK, weekend reports suggested the BBC’s popular iPlayer might be coming to the iPhone after a mock-up was used on a BBC iPlayer Data Pack report, showcasing October’s facts and figures for the catch-up TV service.

However, BBC blogger Nick Reynolds in response to questions about the iPhone images used in the report wrote: “Antshez and AllAboutiPhone – the images are old images and should not be taken to mean that anything is likely to happen soon. Since the images seem to have provoked unnecessary speculation we’ll probably update the pack later today and remove them.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Adobe, Intuit, Others Offering Premium Deals for Online Customers

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Date: Friday, November 27th, 2009, 10:20
Category: News, Software

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Software gets pricey, but today it might not have to be. Per MacNN, major programs from Adobe, Intuit and Parallels have also become a part of special Black Friday software deals. Amazon is currently selling Adobe’s CS4 Design Standard Student Edition for US$296, the CS4 Web Premium Student Edition for US$350, and the CS4 Design Premium Student Edition for US$404 with discounts between 78 and 79% lower than list price.

Adobe itself is now selling Photoshop Elements 8 for just US$60, US$40 lower than normal. The price does require taking advantage of a US$20 mail-in rebate, but at least includes free shipping. Parallels has dropped US$10 off its Desktop 5.0 virtualization software, whereas VMware is selling Fusion 3.0 for $16 less with the code “dsktp20sale”.

Finally, Intuit has dropped the price of QuickBooks 2010 to US$160, though MacMall is offering it for as little as US$150.

USB 3.0 PCI Express Cards for the Mac on the Horizon…Maybe

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Date: Friday, November 27th, 2009, 08:38
Category: News

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Back in 1998, the original iMac was one of the first computers to adopt USB technology. Later, Apple proved to be a little late in getting USB 2.0 on its machines. Now, with USB 3.0 around the corner, some options may be emerging that suggest that Mac Pro and various PowerMac users will have access to USB 3.0 technologies.

Per CNET, Buffalo Technology recently announced their latest hard drives with USB 3.0 support, beating speculation that these devices would not arrive until next year. As for what this means with regards to USB 3.0 in Macs, the drives apparently ship with a USB 3.0 PCI-express card that can be dropped in and used on any system, and according to the press release they are compatible with both PCs and Macs.

“The USB 3.0 PCI Express Interface Card allows users to upgrade their PC, notebook or Mac to take advantage of the next generation of external hard drives that offer faster data transfer speeds than ever before.”

Although this may be good news for Mac users, the press release is a bit confusing since it also mentions the card is compatible with notebook systems. This may be an error, but also puts into question their claim of Mac compatibility.

The card being supplied with the drive is Buffalo’s IFC-PCIE2U3 card, and its inclusion with a drive that is advertised as being Mac compatible suggests (albeit indirectly) that the card is also compatible with Macs. Despite this, as with most USB 3.0 expansion cards that are already out on the market, this card’s information page has no specific mention of Mac support, and only lists Windows XP and later as supported operating systems.

Overall, this card may be an option for adding USB 3.0 support to PowerMacs and Mac Pros with PCI-express slots, but there is the possibility that these cards do not support Macs and are only being included with the drives to provide USB 3.0 speeds for PCs.

Time to wait and see, but if USB 3.0 drives are on the horizon, there’s a fortune to be made for a good third party PCI-express card that works and allows for the 4.8 GB Gbit/second data throughput rate none of us would mind having access to.