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Review: Colin McRae Rally for iOS

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Date: Wednesday, August 21st, 2013, 09:37
Category: iOS, Review, Software, Software

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 9.14.41 AM

Review: Colin McRae Rally iOS
By Mr. S

Rally racing is a mystery to most. A marginalized sport that has a hard time in certain countries finding mass appeal. Like other european sports, it has had an especially hard time in the United States where the name “Colin McRae” is about as well known as canadian metal band Anvil.

Take a trip to Finland, Scotland or Darkur and you will see the exact opposite. Rally is king, and its master drivers are lauded as superhuman for their ability to drive with total precision through some of the most technically challenging road courses known to man. These are not well-groomed good ol’ boys taking left turns as fast as possible. These were chip-toothed men of true grit risking their lives for the sake of perfection. For those who understand rally racing, it’s the drivers who receive the most admiration, because it takes a special kind of man to take a 90 degree corner at 70 mph on a dirt road the width of a Mini Cooper surrounded by trees that could turn your car into scrap metal the moment you slip up. That’s the kind of legend Colin McRae was. He was the Flying Scot, and until his untimely death in 2007 he was one of the most exciting drivers since Ari Vatanen.

Pay in Championship, Single Stage or Rally modes.

Play in Championship, Single Stage or Rally modes.

Getting to know rally and the men who participate in it is imperative to understanding why Codemasters was smart to take extreme care in making the Colin McRae series of racing games. The equivalent would be something like putting Michael Jordan on the cover of your NBA game; players are going to be expecting perfection and anything less will be bollocks. Not even the king of simulation, Gran Tourismo, with its amazing rally mode can match what Codemasters has done with this amazing series. Racing legend Hans Stuck famously drove his cars with only a small piece of cloth on his seat. He says “Its important I have a physical connection with my vehicle, I need to feel the sliding.” It’s that same attention to “feel” that makes Colin McRae exceptional, and it’s why this iOS port is amazing. Even though it’s just a quick port of a thirteen-year-old game for the original Playstation and PC.

And this game does not try to hide its age. Tree textures pop in and out, levels are basically ugly skinny corridors with hyper-flat surfaces, and objects that you should be able to crush or roll over stop you dead. The once-fun animated menu system with a funky 90’s soundtrack cool enough to warrant its own YouTube OST video was taken out to save space. All we’re left with is a Fisher Price style main menu with a whopping three icons and one lonesome techno track looping.

All of this is forgiven, though, because they didn’t label it as a port or “HD” remake. They simply named it “Colin McRae Rally”, but more importantly they left in everything that makes the Colin McRae Rally experience fun.

Colin McRae Rally may not be the prettiest thing out there, but it still delivers terrific gameplay.

Colin McRae Rally may not be the prettiest thing out there, but it still delivers terrific gameplay.

Codemasters made sure every little detail is pitch-perfect from how gravel sounds in a wheel well to how your wheels screech and pick up grip when sliding sideways onto a paved road. They even included the oft-overlooked and distinctive sound of a handbrake being used. While the audio is well-designed, it’s the physics that really steal the show. Rally cars have an insane amount of power, and this game does a really good job of putting that power in the hands of the player. You can see your suspension working when you slam on the breaks or take a corner hard, you can feel the difference in handling when you change gear ratios. It all works together to solidify that you are indeed flying down a european backroad at speeds that would make most men weep.

It’s the love for rally that really shines through in the Colin McRae series, and thankfully this iOS port brings that love of the sport and the attention to detail that comes with it to the App Store. For racing fans burned out on Real Racing, it’s an absolute must.

Colin McRae Rally retails for US$2.99 on the App Store and requires iOS 6.0 or later to install and run.

Apple begins graphics card program for designated iMacs, looks to replace faulty AMD Radeon HD 6970M units

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Date: Monday, August 19th, 2013, 07:10
Category: Hardware, iMac, News

Check the manufacturing date on your iMac, it may be eligible for a replacement graphics card.

Per AppleInsider, addressing complaints from owners, Apple has decided to institute a replacement program for graphics cards used in specific 27-inch iMac models sold between May 2011 and October 2012.

According to a document on Apple’s Support webpage, the AMD Radeon HD 6970M video cards shipped with certain 27-inch iMac desktop configurations would fail, causing the display to “appear distorted, white or blue with vertical lines.” In some cases, the screen would simply go black.

Models covered in the replacement program include high-end “mid-2011” 27-inch iMacs with 3.1GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 or 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processors. The all-in-ones first hit store shelves in May 2011 and remained on sale until the current ultra thin iMacs debuted in October 2012.

Apple will replace failed video cards free of charge for up to three years after the initial purchase date. In addition, people who may have paid for repair or replacement associated with the issue can seek a refund.

Those affected by the issue can take their iMac in for evaluation at the Genius Bar of a local Apple Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider. If those services are unavailable, owners are instructed to call Apple Technical Support for other further options.

If you’ve seen this issue on your end, please let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Next-gen iPhone to include gold color, 128GB capacity

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Date: Friday, August 16th, 2013, 07:06
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

The next-gen iPhone could hold twice as much data as the current model.

And be a classy gold color.

Per AppleInsider, KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo offers his predictions on Apple’s anticipated next-generation iPhone, including a new 128GB storage option and a gold colorway.

Kuo points out in his note investors that the so-called “iPhone 5S,” will carry over many of the features already established with the current iPhone 5, including the 4-inch screen form factor.

The analyst predicts Apple will make the usual processor buff, this time to a new A7 system-on-chip design with 1GB of LPDDR3 RAM. The latest chip is expected to be of Apple’s own design based on the ARMv8 architecture, suggesting efficiency may be increased by up to 20 percent. Because Apple controls both the operating system and hardware for the iPhone 5S, it can optimize the faster LPDDR3 RAM spec for the A7 SoC, keeping the amount of addressable memory to 1GB.

The phone’s rear-facing camera will also be tweaked. While the sensor unit will remain untouched, the iPhone 5S shooter will use a larger f2.0 aperture lens assembly with dual LED flashes.

As for the widely rumored fingerprint sensor, Kuo reiterated the view he expressed in a separate note last week, saying the package will likely be embedded in a sapphire glass home button.

For storage, Kuo expects Apple to add on a new option for a capacious 128GB of on-board flash memory, the same change the company made to the fourth generation iPad in February.

Finally, a new option for a gold casing is expected to be offered alongside the traditional black and, with the iPhone 5, silver colors. Gold parts purportedly bound for the 5S were leaked in June, though an accompanying chassis sporting the new color has yet to surface.

Contrary to some predictions, Kuo doesn’t see Apple implementing near-field communication (NFC) in the iPhone 5S.

Apple is rumored to be prepping for a Sept. 10 iPhone announcement, at which the company is expected to launch the iPhone 5S and possibly a less expensive handset dubbed the “iPhone 5C.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to debut thinner next-gen iPad, iPad mini with Retina display in 2013

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Date: Tuesday, August 13th, 2013, 06:38
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPad mini, Rumor

The upcoming iPad could be thinner for the full iPad and feature a Retina display for the mini version.

Per Bloomberg, Apple will launch a Retina iPad mini and a slimmed down full-size iPad by the end of 2013.

The publication cites sources familiar with Apple’s plans as saying the company will not only debut a redesigned 9.7-inch iPad in the fourth quarter, but is also looking to release a hotly anticipated iPad mini with Retina display before the year is out. It is unclear if the models will launch simultaneously.

One source stated the next-generation iPad will take its design cues from the current iPad mini, including a thinner side bezel and rounded corners. There have been a number of supposed parts leaks, as well as analyst predictions, regarding Apple’s next iPad, most of which point to a redesigned exterior and enhanced innards.

As for the next-gen iPad mini, Monday’s report was light on specifics, only mentioning that the tablet would include a high-resolution Retina display. Similar rumors have been present since June with few, if any, true specifics to be had here.

Stay tuned for details as they become available and let us know what you think in the comments.

Rumor: Apple to hold iPhone media event on September 10th

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Date: Monday, August 12th, 2013, 07:40
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

The next-gen Apple iPhone may have a media event date.

Per All Things Digital and AppleInsider, unnamed sources have indicated that Apple is looking to hold a media event for the long-anticipated iPhone model on September 10th. That date would occur on the second to the last day of the IFA consumer electronics trade show being held in Berlin, Germany from September 6-11. Samsung is expected to announce its Galaxy Note 3 at the show, and HTC may release its own “One Max” phablet.

The event is expected to officially release the redesigned new iOS 7, which Apple says will support the existing iPhone 4 or later and iPad 2 or later models now being sold, as well as the 5th generation or newer iPod touch.

Apple is expected release an enhanced new iPhone 5S with a similar form factor to the existing iPhone 5.

The new iPhone 5S is expected to introduce enhanced new features thought to include a camera with potentially a dual LED, a faster processor, and potentially the fingerprint sensor technology it acquired with AuthenTec.

Apple is also rumored to potentially release a new iPhone 5C aimed at entry level users, sporting cases in multiple colors and a lower price targeting first time smartphone buyers.

Leaked schematics that appeared in June depicted a new low-cost iPhone model that would be a hair wider and taller than the iPhone 5S.

The documents also suggested that the new low-cost iPhone will be about 0.8 millimeters thicker than the iPhone 4S, with back edges that are rounded off, similar to the iPod classic.

Apple is also expected to capitalize on the continuing, strong performance of iPhone 4, which is now nearly three years old. A revamped iPhone 5C, also referenced in rumors as an “iPhone Lite,” could provide Apple with a more modern but still entry level priced device with support for features introduced after the iPhone 4 was developed in 2010.

In Apple’s most recent conference call, its chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer stated that “iPhone 5 remains by far the most popular iPhone, but we were also very happy with sales of iPhone 4 and 4S,” later adding that “iPhone 4 sales accelerated as we offered more affordable pricing in emerging and in other markets.””The number of first time smartphone buyers that the iPhone 4 is attracting is very, very impressive.”

Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook referenced lower iPhone 4 pricing as a significant factor in the “unusual” growth in iPhone sales in the June quarter, noting that “with the moves that we made on [iPhone] 4 and with iPhone 5 continuing to be the most popular model, we saw very strong sales in several of the emerging markets, sort of pre-pay markets.”

Cook later added that “what we’ve seen is that the number of first time smartphone buyers that the iPhone 4 is attracting is very, very impressive. We want to attract as many of these buyers as we can and we saw that beginning to happen toward the end of the Q2 timeframe, as I’d referenced on last quarter’s call, and we did that on a wider spread basis, offered more affordable pricing on a wider scale basis this quarter, and continue to be very happy with what we saw.

“Where iPhone 5 continues to be the most popular iPhone by far, we’re really happy to provide an incredible high quality product with iPhone 4 running iOS 6 to as many first-time smartphone buyers as we can, and I think it’s proven to be exactly a great product for that buyer.”

Stay tuned for additional details about the upcoming media event as they become available.

Leaked image shows longer ribbon cable, adjusted components for next-gen iPhone

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Date: Tuesday, August 6th, 2013, 06:42
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Pictures, Rumor

The upcoming iPhone will feature a longer ribbon cable for its internal components.

Or at least that’s what a leaked photo is indicating.

Per Letem Svetem Applem, a new side-by-side comparison of iPhone 5 parts with components allegedly built for Apple’s next-generation “iPhone 5S” show minor internal changes, the most significant of which is a longer ribbon cable attached to the front display.


The direct comparison of front panels once again suggested that Apple’s unannounced next-generation iPhone will sport largely the same look as the iPhone 5. That’s why the rumored device has been dubbed an “iPhone 5S” by media and fans, who expect the handset will sport an essentially identical design to Apple’s current flagship smartphone.

Aside from a longer and redesigned ribbon cable on the front panel, the rest of the part looks mostly the same, with a few internal changes in the form of moved screws and other minor tweaks. But on the outside, the part looks identical to the iPhone 5, with the FaceTime camera remaining directly above the handset’s earpiece.

Screw placement around the “iPhone 5S” home button is also essentially unchanged. Rumors have repeatedly suggested that Apple plans to embed a fingerprint scanner inside the home button of its next iPhone, but so far none of the leaked parts have offered any evidence of significant hardware changes.

Apple is expected to hold an event at some point in September to unveil its new iPhone lineup for the fall of 2013 and beyond. In addition to a next-generation flagship “iPhone 5S,” Apple is also expected to introduce a new low-cost iPhone with a plastic back and the same 4-inch display as the iPhone 5.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Leaked image shows possible 8 megapixel camera for rumored low-cost iPhone

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Date: Friday, August 2nd, 2013, 08:17
Category: Hardware, iPhone, photos, Rumor

It may feature a plastic backing, but it should have a pretty nifty camera.

Per IT168 and MacRumors, a supposed “iPhone Lite” or “iPhone 5C” rear camera image was published on Thursday. The part is claimed to be a camera module for Apple’s anticipated low-cost iPhone.

The original report claims that the part is the same 8-megapixel lens already found in Apple’s iPhone 5, and even features the same sapphire crystal scratch-resistant cover.


Previously, it was also claimed that the “iPhone Lite” will feature the same A6 processor and 1 gigabyte of RAM as the existing iPhone 5. With largely the same internals, the exterior rear shell of the device is expected to be plastic, and come in a variety of colors.

Apple’s alleged production schedule for the low-cost iPhone is expected to have the device ready for launch as soon as early September, according to well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities. He expects that the device will cost about the same as the current iPhone 4S, between US$450 and US$550, and will be easy for Apple to manufacture, as it will recycle many parts from the iPhone 5.

The same was not said by Kuo of the so-called “iPhone 5S,” which the analyst expects will be in short supply when it launches this fall. In particular, Apple’s next-generation iPhone is rumored to feature a fingerprint sensor beneath the home button for securely identifying users.

As for the camera on the “iPhone 5S,” one rumor from earlier this year claimed Apple would bump the internal sensor up to 12 megapixels. It’s also been said that the camera will take better nighttime photos with improved sensitivity, while dual LED flash is expected to improve illumination capabilities in low-light situations.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple purchases Passif semiconductor, move allows access to low-power technologies

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Date: Friday, August 2nd, 2013, 07:23
Category: Hardware, News


It was a bit on the subtle side this time, but Apple bought another company for a potentially key asset.

Per Jessica Lessin, formerly of the Wall Street Journal, Apple has purchased Passif Semiconductor, a California communication chip developer that specializes in low-power designs — technology that could be useful in developing a smartwatch-like wearable device.

To date, Passif’s current products have included wireless radios for Bluetooth Low Energy profiles.

It’s unknown how much Apple paid for Passif, but according to Lessin, the iPhone maker attempted to buy the chipmaker years ago “a for a price in the mid-tens-of-millions of dollars.” The company confirmed that the deal took place, but did not divulge any specifics.

The acquisition may be linked to Apple’s rumored “iWatch” development, an anticipated wrist-worn device that is expected to connect with devices like the iPhone while also measuring biometric data for fitness and health purposes.

Apple has also been aggressively hiring personnel from the medical sensor field in an apparent attempt to bolster its team for the rumored “iWatch.” Well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities expects such a device to debut in late 2014.

In a rare move, Apple has even openly filed for ownership of the iWatch name in a number of countries around the world.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook revealed in May that his company had at that point acquired 9 companies since October of 2012. He also said that his company had picked up the pace since 2012, when Apple acquired companies at a rate of one every 70 days.

Since Cook’s comments in May, Apple has acquired at least three more companies: In addition to Passif, it bought public transit and navigation firm HopStop, as well as crowdsourced mapping data startup Locationary. While the buyout of Passif will help Apple’s future hardware, the benefits of the Locationary and HopStop purchases will most certainly be seen on the software front, through Apple’s in-house Maps service.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Retina Display iPad mini could arrive later this year with displays from Samsung, new back colors a possibility

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Date: Thursday, August 1st, 2013, 06:00
Category: Hardware, iPad mini, Rumor

At this point, it’s still a rumor.

But it’s a sexy rumor.

Per 9to5Mac and the Wall Street Journal, Apple is sourcing components from Samsung to produce a Retina Display version of the iPad mini later this year. Screens from Sharp and LG Display will also be used. Apple is apparently also considering multi-colored back plates for the iPad mini. This sounds similar to what Apple offers on the latest iPod touch models. Earlier today, it had been reported that Apple will be sourcing components for its next chipset from Samsung.

Recent reports indicated that developers had located references to a likely non-Retina iPad mini with an A6 processor in iOS 7 code. It’s likely that this model, as has been mentioned earlier, could simply be an internal-only device that never ships, or an iPad mini update that Apple once planned, yet scrapped. Perhaps the recent introduction of the ultra-high resolution Nexus 7 tablet escalated Apple’s need to ship the much wanted Retina iPad mini.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Hack: 2013 11-inch MacBook Air owner deciphers means of using adapters to access external graphics card, improve performance sevenfold

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Date: Wednesday, July 31st, 2013, 06:34
Category: Hacks, Hardware, MacBook Air, News, Software

It ain’t pretty, but it apparently works really well.

Per MacRumors and Mac|Life, TechInferno contributor Larry Gadea was able to hook up a powerful graphics processor to his 11-inch MacBook Air with the help of several adapters.

Gadea first used a Thunderbolt to Express Card adapter which was then connected an Express Card to PCI-Express adapter. Once that was done, he plugged the whole thing into a Windows-compatible video card–specifically, a GeForce GTX 570.

In his words, “It has become very clear that gaming is not only high-performance, but super practical on an 11″ Macbook Air. There’s so much going against it: this hodgepodge of adapters, it has a low voltage CPU, disaster of wiring and exposed sensitive parts, crazy boot-time chainloading software, Intel killing companies producing adapters and products left right and center via legal threats, etc. but somehow, with the right parts and some patience, it works spectacularly. And is quite cheap too!”

The TechInferno forum link can be found here, but Gadea’s unique solution to the limitations of Mac gaming has proven so popular that it’s apparently crashed the TechInferno forums. The post includes important specifics about the setup, including the understandable limitation that Boot Camp needs to be installed on your Mac in order to run many of the games themselves due to Windows-only restrictions. Gadea has stated that his graphics performance has improved roughly sevenfold since installing the hack.

The current rundown of Gadea’s setup includes the following:
– An 11-inch Macbook Air (2013 model

– A copy of Windows 7

– A Sonnet Echo ExpressCard

– A BPlus PE4L ExpressCard to PCI-Express adapter

– A copy of DIY eGPU Setup 1.X

– A 4GB USB thumb drive (to install Windows)

– A 400w PC power supply

– A video card of your choosing.

Since a picture’s worth a thousand words, check out Gadea’s rig (which retails for about $250) in action as it tears through Borderlands 2 in resolutions you’d otherwise never see on an 11-inch MacBook Air:

If you’ve come up with a killer hack/rig of your own like this, please let us know in the comments.