O'Grady's PowerPage » Software

Adobe releases Photoshop Elements 9 for Mac, Windows

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Date: Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010, 04:19
Category: News, Software

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Software giant Adobe on Tuesday announced the launch of Photoshop Elements 9, the company’s consumer-level photo editing application, for both Mac and Windows. The new version boasts a number of features that are new to Mac users, most notably the bundled Elements Organizer, which acts as a hub for importing, managing, and viewing photo and video files.

Per Macworld, Photoshop Elements 9 includes one of Photoshop CS5′s most popular features, Content Aware Fill, and puts it into the Spot Healing Brush. This tool can be used to remove specific objects from an image by analyzing the surrounding information. Also new to this version are Layer Masks, which can be used to block out specific parts of images with varying transparency levels.

Users new to photo editing can use the program’s guided edits to learn how to make edits to their images via tutorial-based instructions. Edited images can then be posted directly to sites like Facebook and Flickr from the organizer, or by using any of the templates included in Elements 9 to create scrapbooks, photobooks, online albums, or slideshows.

The Elements Organizer lets users sort images in a number of ways, including with automatic face recognition and keyword tags. A new auto-analyzing tag feature analyzes the content of images, such as lighting and contrast, to smartly suggest appropriate keyword tags.

Photoshop Elements 9 runs on Intel-based Macs and requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run. The program will cost US$100 and come packaged with the Elements Organizer. For an additional US$50, users can upgrade to Photoshop Elements 9 Plus, which adds 20GB of online storage and access to various libraries of templates, guides, and artwork.

Rumor: Apple purchased Polar Rose facial recognition company for $29 million

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Date: Tuesday, September 21st, 2010, 04:17
Category: Rumor, Software

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It’s the stuff Apple buys out that makes future technology speculation kind of fun.

Per TechCrunch, Apple is rumored to have bought a Swedish company Polar Rose. The company has created technology for facial recognition, which could allow for software and devices to recognize unique users.

Though neither party has officially confirmed the purchase, Polar Rose offers a number of products based on its technology, including FaceCloud, which allows facial recognition for Web services, and FaceLib, which brings the functionality to mobile phones.

One of the company’s products, dubbed Recognizr, could take a photo of a user and recognize that same person when shown on video. In a video demonstration, the application places social networking sites associated with that person around their face when seen via a mobile phone’s video camera.

Polar Rose is a small company with less than 20 employees. Its technology came from research conducted in two universities located in southern Sweden.

Earlier this month, on its official blog, Polar Rose announced it would no longer offer free end-user face detection and recognition services. The service allowed users to tag their Facebook friends in Flickr photos.

“The service got quite a few users interested and this in turn led to interest by larger companies in licensing our technology,” Polar Rose’s Thijs Stalenhoef said. “This meant refocusing and that left our free service out in the cold. Although we did try to keep it up to date, this became harder and harder over time, as our licensing business accelerated.”

Apple has its own “Faces” technology featured in its iPhoto and Aperture applications. Faces uses face detection and recognition to find and organize photos by the people in them.

In addition, Apple has shown interest in having its devices identify users using a camera and facial recognition technology. In January, The Wall Street Journal revealed that an early prototype of the device would use a camera to recognize users’ faces, allowing it to be one device easily shared by the entire family.

Apple reportedly experimented with the ability to customize the device, and have it automatically switch to a user’s personal settings once they picked it up. One early feature included virtual “sticky notes” that one user could leave for another, and would be read the next time they picked up the iPad.

Cool stuff if it happens and stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Security Update 2010-006 for Mac OS X 10.6 users

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Date: Tuesday, September 21st, 2010, 03:11
Category: News, Software

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On Monday, Apple released its Security Update 2010-006 patch, a tiny 1.8 megabyte download that fixes one specific bug in Mac OS X 10.6.4’s AFP file sharing implementation that could allow remote attackers to bypass the password validation system if they know the name of an account on the Mac.

Fortunately, previous versions of Mac OS X are not affected and only client users need the update.

The update can be snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature and requires Mac OS X 10.6.4 or later to install and run.

Two Google Voice apps receive Apple approval, Google Voice may be forthcoming

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Date: Monday, September 20th, 2010, 04:10
Category: News, Software

In a change on previous decision, two Google Voice applications were accepted into the App Store on Sunday: GV Mobile + and GV Connect. Per AppleInsider, their acceptance marks the first time that Apple has allowed such software since it removed Google Voice apps in July of 2009.

Earlier this month, Sean Kovacs, the developer of GV Mobile +, indicated he had spoken with Apple, and representatives with the company indicated they would approve his software. The change in policy came after Apple published its App Store Review Guidelines for all to see.

Still missing in action, however, is Google’s own official Google Voice application. The “non-rejection” of that application in 2009 caused a controversy and even led to an inquiry from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

In a letter to the FCC, Apple claimed that it was reviewing the official Google Voice application. The company said it had not outright rejected the software, but was instead considering it. Over a year passed with no official acceptance or rejection.

Google, on the other hand, said in its own letter to the FCC that Apple had outright “rejected” the Google Voice application from the App Store.

The approval of the two apps would suggest that the search giant could once again submit its Google Voice application, and have it accepted into the App Store.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T to launch LTE 4G network in 2011, expand HPSA+ services

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Date: Friday, September 17th, 2010, 05:48
Category: iPhone, News

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Wireless carrier AT&T appears to be planning to launch its fourth-generation high-speed wireless network by mid-2011, and will continue to expand its speedy HPSA+ 3G network this year.

Per FierceWireless, the company is currently conducting trials of its 4G long-term evolution network in Baltimore, Maryland and Dallas, Texas, the company’s operations chief executive, John Stankey, said Thursday at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2010 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference. He also said the company is on track to launch its LTE network by mid-2011.

The timing of AT&T’s launch could allow for the next-generation iPhone, likely to be unveiled in June as it is every year, to connect to the high-speed 4G wireless network. Apple in the past sought to hire experts on LTE, presumably for a forthcoming handset.

AT&T will reportedly spend US$700 million on its LTE network this year, and plans to “go far beyond that” in 2011, Stankey reportedly said. His news comes as competing carrier Verizon said it will launch its own LTE network in 30 National Football League cities by the end of 2010.

Stankey also said AT&T is preparing a nationwide HSPA+ upgrade for this year, which will allow for real-time download speeds of 7Mbps. Earlier this year, the company vowed that its high-speed upgrade will reach 250 million Americans in 2010.

AT&T has partnered with Alcatel and Lucent to build out its LTE network, which will deliver higher broadband throughput and lower latency than the company’s existing 3G network, including the HPSA+ upgrades.

Stankey also revealed that AT&T has seen a 5,000% increase in wireless data traffic over the last three years, since the iPhone was introduced in 2007. The company’s wireless data revenue is also up 27%.

Spiffy news if it comes true. And per dropped calls, there’s always the iPhone 4 bumper on hand…

Apple posts first external iOS 4.2 betas, new features on the way

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Date: Thursday, September 16th, 2010, 04:06
Category: iPad, News, Software

Apple on Wednesday released the first external betas of iOS 4.2, which will debut features like AirPlay and AirPrint for iOS devices while also delivering a slew of long-awaited bells and whistles for the iPad, including multi-tasking, folders and threaded mail.

Per AppleInsider, a handful of more subtle refinements will ship along as well:

The biggest new feature for iPhone and iPod touch users is AirPrint, which allows wireless printing via a shared printer, or directly through some HP branded printers. The functionality is accomplished through a new Print Center application that is only available on iOS devices that can multitask, which means the iPhone 3G will not be able to print.

iOS 4.2 for the iPhone will debut a new icon for Apple’s Voice Memos application, a new version of modem firmware, and some new font additions for the Notes application, detailed later in this article in relation to the iPad. It will also add support for importing .ics files directly as a way to add events to the native Calendar application.

Multi-tasking:
iOS 4.2 introduces to the iPad many features that iPhone and iPod touch users already enjoy, including multitasking and folders. Just like on current devices that run iOS 4, users can run tasks from compatible applications in the background, and manage those applications by double-tapping the home button.

20-app Folders:
By dragging icons atop one another on the iPad homescreen, iOS 4.2 also automatically creates a folder. This will allow iPad users to have less clutter on their homescreen, and to easily sort their downloads from the App Store. The iPad’s larger screen real estate allows for a total of 20 applications per folder rather than 12.

New Spotlight Preferences:
Apple has added a new Spotlight Search preference pane under the General Settings panel with options to include or disallow search results based on the following categories: Contacts, Applications, Music, Podcasts, Videos, Audiobooks, Notes, Mail and Events. Users can also reorder those categories to force search results to display in the order of their liking.

New Restrictions:
In addition to allowing or disallowing Multiplayer Games through Game Center, iOS 4.2 for iPad will enable users to allow or disallow changes to Location settings and Mail Account settings.

A new setting in iOS 4.2 for iPad 3G allows users to disable 3G access and revert to EDGE, trading speed for battery life.

Check Spelling:
Like iOS 4.1 for the iPhone, iOS 4.2 for iPad will deliver the option to turn Spell Checking on or off.

Accessibility: Larger Fonts:
Handicapped and elderly users will notice the addition of a “Large Text” option in the accessibility preference pane which offers the option to set font sizes for Contacts, Mail, Messages, and Notes in one of the following sizes: 20pt, 24pt, 32pt, 40pt, 48pt, 56pt.

New Notes Preferences:
Like iOS 4.2 for the iPhone, Apple has added a Notes preference pane that lets users choose between Chalkboard, Helvetica, and Marker Felt for their notes fonts. It also lets users set a default email account to which new notes can be tied.

Wireless Printing:
Of course one of the most highly anticipated features of iOS 4.2 is support for AirPrint, Apple’s wireless printing technology. Apple is updating all of its applicable default apps to support the AirPrint feature.

Game Center:
iPad users will also gain access to Game Center, Apple’s social networking application for games on iOS devices. Game Center allows users to invite friends to play a game, compare scores and achievements with others, and more.

New Orientation Lock and Brightness Controls:
With iOS 4.2 for iPad, Apple will convert the physical orientation lock button on the right hand side of the iPad into a volume mute toggle. Orientation locking will be facilitated through the iPod widget like on the iPhone. iOS 4.2 will also add a display brightness interface slider on the left hand side of the iPod widget (to fill space?).

AirPlay:
AirPlay (formerly AirTunes), is also on its way to the iPad and iPhone via iOS 4.2. In addition to music, the technology will then allow users to stream video and photos over Wi-Fi, as can be seen in this screen capture of the new Photos application for the iPad.

Universal, Threaded Mail App:
For Mail on the iPad, iOS 4.2 will offer a universal mailbox and the option (via the Mail preference pane) to organize mails by thread. Like on the iPhone and iPod touch, messages in an inbox will automatically be combined into a threaded view where applicable, saving space and making the Mail application more efficient.

iAd:
Apple’s iAd interactive advertisements will also begin appearing in iPad applications after the release of iOS 4.2. iAds offer an “app within an app,” allowing advertisers to deliver content to users without forcing them to open a browser and leave their current application. With the iOS 4.2 beta, developers can now begin working to integrate iAds into their iPad software in time for its November release.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the iOS 4.2 beta for the iPad and can offer any comments of feedback, please let us know what you think.

Parallels Desktop for Mac 6.0 out the door, boasts speed improvements, new features

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Date: Wednesday, September 15th, 2010, 05:26
Category: News, Software

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On Monday, virtualization software maker Parallels released Parallels Desktop 6.0 for Mac OS X. The software allows Mac users to run Windows within Mac OS X. The company says that Parallels Desktop 6 has over 80 new features and improvements, the most prominent being an increased speed in addition to faster performance when handling files over USB or on a network. Per Macworld, the developer says that the new software can boot Windows 41% faster than the previous version, and 3D graphics performance gets a 40% increase. Parallels Desktop 6 also has full 64-bit support.

“With Parallels Desktop 6, gaming and graphics was a priority,” said Jack Zubarev, President of Marketing and Alliances for Parallels in a press conference. In addition to the graphics enhancements, Parallels Desktop 6 now supports 5.1 surround sound.

Parallels Desktop 6 also has new security features. Parental controls now work so that the setting you apply on your Mac are also carried over to Windows. The virtual machine encryption feature helps maintain the privacy of your data. Parallels also provides the Kaspersky Internet Security 2011 (Windows) and Kaspersky Anti-Virus for Mac software packages, as well as the Acronis True Image Home 2010 backup and file recovery program, and Acronis Disk Director 2011 Home hard drive utility (both for Windows).

Other new features include the ability to use Mac OS X keyboard shortcuts in Windows and the ability to use Spotlight to find Windows programs.

Parallels Desktop 6 retails for US$80 while a student version is available for US$40. Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac will also be packaged in a US$100 Switch to Mac bundle targeted at new Mac users who are switching from a Windows PC computer. The Switch to Mac bundle includes a USB cable for transferring files between a Mac and PC.

Existing Parallels users can upgrade to version 6 for US$50. If you bought Parallels Desktop 5 for Mac after August 15 from an authorized dealer, you will be able to upgrade to version 6 at no additional cost.

A direct download of the new version is available here.

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

Cocktail 4.7.7 (Snow Leopard Edition) Released

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Date: Tuesday, September 14th, 2010, 03:28
Category: News, Software

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Over the weekend, shareware developer Maintain released version 4.7.7 of Cocktail (Snow Leopard Edition), Cocktail, the popular shareware utility program that allows for additional Mac OS X system tests. The new version, a 2 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

- Added Mac OS X 10.6.5 compatibility.

- Fixed compatibility issues with Safari 5 extensions.

- Fixed compatibility issues with iTunes 10.

- Added ability to restore horizontal window controls in iTunes 10 (Interface – Misc).

- Added Dock menu.

- Minor user interface improvements.

- Updated Automator actions.

Cocktail 4.7.7 retails for a US$14.95 shareware registration fee and requires Mac OS X 10.6.2 or later to install and run.

Fifth-gen iPhone may swap Infineon baseband chip for Qualcomm model

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Date: Monday, September 13th, 2010, 06:47
Category: iPhone, News

The fifth-generation iPhone may forgo an Infineon baseband chip in favor of one from Qualcomm, according to an unconfirmed report.

Per the Commercial Times report, Infineon will not provide the baseband chip for the fifth-generation iPhone. Infineon’s wireless unit was sold to Intel for US$1.4 billion in August.

According to the report, the next-generation Apple smartphone, which is expected next year, will still be manufactured by the Hon Hai Group and Foxconn, and will include a Qualcomm baseband chip this time around.

A move away from Infineon would break with precedent. Infineon has supplied Apple with the baseband chip for the iPad 3G and all of the Cupertino, Calif., company’s iPhone models since the smartphone was first released in 2007.

There has been little indication of trouble in the relationship between Infineon and Apple. After the Intel-Infineon deal, Intel CEO Paul Otellini told Fox Business that Apple CEO Steve Jobs was “very happy” with it.

On the other hand, relations between Apple and Intel have been tense as of late. Otellini made comments earlier this week criticizing the newly released Apple TV as a “step backward,” especially when compared to the Intel-powered Google TV products set to be released this month.

A Qualcomm broadband chip would match rumors that Apple is developing a CDMA iPhone. Qualcomm invented the now widely-used CDMA technology. A cryptic “iPhone developer guru” job posting on the Qualcomm website in August claimed that respondents would work on “the most challenging product” of their lives.

Several analysts see a switch to Qualcomm by Apple as the right move. In light of the Intel-Infineon deal, “Apple may want to diversify its supplier base to reduce dependency on a single supplier,” said Manikandan Raman with the Motley Fool.

With a 69% share of the CDMA mobile phone chipset market, Qualcomm would be the “logical choice” to help Apple expand to other networks, said Barclays Capital analyst Andrew Gardiner. “Infineon’s wireless unit doesn’t offer chips for CDMA technology.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Amazon leaks Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 release date

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Date: Monday, September 13th, 2010, 06:16
Category: News, Software

This may not have been the way Microsoft would have chosen to announce its Office for Mac 2011 launch date, but it worked.

Per Macworld, Microsoft will launch the next version of Office for the Mac in just under six weeks, according to Amazon.com.

The Seattle-based online retailer listed Office for Mac 2011’s availability date as October 26th for all versions of the upcoming suite.

Previously, Microsoft had only promised to ship the newest version of Office before the end of October.

Amazon did not display prices for the two new editions, Home and Student 2011 and Home and Business 2011. Each will come in two configurations, a one-license package and a multi-license version.

Last month, Microsoft set the prices of Home and Student 2011 at US$119 and US$149 for the one- and three-license editions, respectively. The Home and Business editions will list for US$199 and US$249 in one- and two-license versions.

Microsoft will not sell discounted “upgrade” versions of Office 2011, as it has for the suite’s predecessors. The decision followed a similar move earlier this year when the Redmond, Wash., software maker dropped upgrade editions and pricing for Office 2010 for Windows, which debuted in May.

Customers can save money by buying the current version, Office for Mac 2008, and then taking advantage of a free upgrade offer that Microsoft also launched last month.

Customers who purchase Office for Mac Home and Student 2008 (listed Friday for US$125 on Amazon) will receive the three-license version of the 2011 suite, a US$25 savings. Purchasers of the 2008 Business Edition, now selling for US$200, will get a free copy of the two-license Home and Business 2011, a savings of US$49.

Microsoft will also sell a US$99 academic edition of Office for Mac 2011 to college students, faculty and staff. The discounted version will include the same applications as Home and Business, but will not be sold at general retail.

The final system requirements for Office 2011 for Mac are as follows:

- A Mac computer with an Intel-based processor.

- Mac OS X version 10.5.8 or later.

- 1 GB of RAM or more.

- 2.5 GB of available hard disk space.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.