Apple announces interactive textbooks, releases iBooks 2.0 update

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Date: Thursday, January 19th, 2012, 08:57
Category: iOS, News, Software

As Apple’s Guggenheim-based education event continues, the company kicked off its announcements with iBooks 2.0, which will bring a new textbook experience to the iPad. Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, these textbooks will include standard text interspersed with interactive high-quality images, videos, animations and 3D models.

This content will allow for features such as being able to pinch to zoom on images, tap on a word and read the glossary entry to find out what they are looking at. It will also include “My Notes” which will let you easily create study cards from a section of the textbook.

The first textbooks made available will be biology and high school science titles from Pearson, McGraw Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. These publishers make up 90 percent of the textbook market. DK Publishing will also launch with several interactive titles for children. Pricing is amazingly competitive with high school textbooks costing US$14.99 or less.

The new iBooks 2.0 app just launched and is available for free over on the iTunes App Store.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

AT&T announces data plan price increases

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Date: Thursday, January 19th, 2012, 07:13
Category: iPhone, News

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You might not like this.

Per AppleInsider, AT&T has introduced new data plans for smartphone and tablet users, adding additional cap space but also charging customers more. The new plans max out at 5GB with tethering for US$50 per month.

A press release on Wednesday stated that the new rates that will take effect on Sunday, Jan. 22, marking the first change to the company’s data plans since 2010.

“Customers are using more data than ever before,” said David Christopher, Chief Marketing Officer of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. “Our new plans are driven by this increasing demand in a highly competitive environment, and continue to deliver a great value to customers, especially as we continue our 4G LTE deployment.”

The new smartphone pricing is basically a US$5 surcharge for a 1 GB bump in data for DataPro users, while DataPlus subscribers will get an extra 100 MB for the same price.

Tablet owners will see a reshuffling of options as the previous 2 GB DataConnect plan is to be replaced a 3 GB per month flavor previously only available on a two-year contract. An additional 5 GB plan will also be added for US$50 per month and the lowest 250 MB plan remains unchanged.

Current subscribers can keep their existing plans or opt in to one of the new tiers when the program launches on Sunday.

Smartphone plans are as follows:
– AT&T DataPlus 300MB: US$20 for 300MB

– AT&T DataPro 3GB: US$30 for 3GB

– AT&T DataPro 5GB: US$50 for 5GB, with mobile hotspot / tethering

Additional data pricing remains at US$10 per gigabyte for the DataPro plans and US$20 per additional 300 MB for DataPlus customers.

Tablet data tiers have changed to:
– AT&T DataConnect 250MB: US$14.99 for 250MB

– AT&T DataConnect 3GB: US$30 for 3GB

– AT&T DataConnect 5GB: US$50 for 5GB

Overage charges only apply to 30-day tablet prices and include US$14.99 for and extra 250MB with AT&T DataConnect 250 MB, and US$10 per additional gigabyte for DataConnect 3 GB and 5 GB.

The new plans reflect an upward trend in cellphone and tablet data pricing from U.S. carriers as their networks strain under the pressure of a growing customer base.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Brother Printer drivers 2.8.1 update

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Date: Wednesday, January 18th, 2012, 11:27
Category: News, Software

It’s not the most exciting update in the world, but it could prove useful.

On Wednesday, Apple released updated Brother printer drivers for the Mac OS X 10.6 and Mac OS X 10.7 operating systems. Brother Printer Driver 2.8, a 150 megabyte download offering the most current drivers for Brother’s printers and multi-function devices.

The update can be located, snagged and installed via the built-in Mac OS X Software Update feature and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new drivers and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.7.3 build 11D46 to developer community

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Date: Wednesday, January 18th, 2012, 11:21
Category: News, Software

Hold your horses, Mac OS X 10.7.3 will get here eventually.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Apple has released build 11D46 of its anticipated Mac OS X 10.7.3 update. The build, a 1.2 GB combo update / 989 MB delta update, focuses on iCloud document storage, Address Book, iCal, Mail, Spotlight and Safari.

The last seed was released a week ago. Apple released Mac OS X 10.7.2 to the general public in October, which added iCloud support.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve had a chance to play with the build, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Flip4Mac updated to 2.4.1.4

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Date: Wednesday, January 18th, 2012, 04:22
Category: News, Software

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Early Wednesday, software developer Telestream has released version 2.4.1.4 of Flip4Mac, its QuickTime components package which allows for Windows Media files to be viewed, imported and converted under Mac OS X. The new release, a 24 megabyte download, includes the following fixes and changes:

– Added a progress indicator while waiting for streams to buffer in web browsers.

– Fixes an export scaling issue that causes video quality issues with source frame sizes not divisible by four.

– Fixes a problem exporting Silverlight templates.

– Fixes numerous problems in the Web browser plug-in that prevented streaming and playback of various sites and other problems with clicking and scrolling while in the plug-in.

– Adds support for Windows Media scripting. Note that scripting only works with Web browsers running in 32-bit mode. You may need to select “Open in 32-bit mode” in Finder’s Info pane for Safari or Firefox for scripting to work.

– Fixes a warning dialog issue with DRM protected content.

Flip4Mac 2.4.1.4 is available for free but can go as high as US$179 depending on the version purchased. The new version requires 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.

WaterBlock technology demoed at CES, could provide waterproofing shield for iOS devices

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Date: Tuesday, January 17th, 2012, 04:13
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News

With any luck, something will come of this.

And it will be spiffy.

Per Pocket Lint, HzO, the maker of a “WaterBlock” technology shown off at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show, has said it is in talks with Apple about using its material in future devices, including the iPhone.

HzO was promoting its nano-scale film barrier at CES last week, pitching it as a potential solution to waterproof expensive electronic equipment. One of their demonstrations included submerging an iPhone into water, and having it remain in proper working order.

HzO’s technology is similar to the nano-coating process demonstrated at CES by P2i, branded “Aridion” and profiled yesterday. A video demonstration of Aridion-treated paper also appeared recently. The technology is already in use by Motorola on both its Droid RAZR smartphone and XYBOARD tablet.

While speaking to attendees at the show, officials with HzO said that Apple is among the companies that have shown interest in the water repelling technology. Company officials said Apple was interested in making a future iPhone waterproof, potentially with a sixth-generation model expected to be released later this year.

“We expect HzO to be in next season’s phones,” the company reportedly said.

In addition to Apple, its rival Samsung is also said to have shown interest in HzO’s technology. The company said it showed a Samsung executive a waterproofed Galaxy S smartphone, and that company officials were “really excited” by what they saw.

HzO’s WaterBlock technology protects the insides of devices on a molecular scale. It has been used in demonstrations to protect a number of Apple products, including the iPhone 4S, iPads and iPods, after the material has been applied to the devices in a vacuum deposition process.

The company says that WaterBlock is a non-toxic, organic material that is safe for people to use. It also doesn’t change the aesthetics of a device or add any weight.

The technology is intended for “accidental encounters” with moisture, meaning use in deep waters or being submerged for an extended period of time is not recommended. However, HzO coated devices have reportedly been immersed in water for “many continuous hours,” and they continue to work fine.

“The technology is designed to protect against failure due to jumping in a pool and forgetting your phone was in your pocket, or dropping your iPod in the sink while doing dishes, or getting caught in a torrid rain storm and getting soaked, or leaving your smartphone in your pants when they go through the wash,” the company said.

Still, a video’s worth a thousand words, so here we go:



Let us know what you make of this in the comments.

Apple patent describes using 3D interface for iPhone

Posted by:
Date: Friday, January 13th, 2012, 08:57
Category: iPhone, News, Patents

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This could definitely qualify as “nifty”.

Per AppleInsider, an Apple patent filing submitted in July of 2010 and made public this week by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), details a new iPhone interface concept in which the user relies on motion controls to interact with a 3D environment. However, this is not 3D in the sense of images springing off the screen; the patent filing refers to it as 3D images built with polygons.

According to the patent application, the interface “uses orientation data from onboard sensors, like a gyroscope and compass, to navigate the system.” A picture accompanying the patent filing shows a virtual room that the user could look around in by moving their device; a “snap to” feature would allow the user to automatically switch to a specific view through a preset action, such as shaking the iPhone.

Cool stuff if it comes to fruition.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple delays iPhone 4S China retail launch as result of unruly lines, crowds

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Date: Friday, January 13th, 2012, 05:42
Category: iPhone, News

It never hurts to keep a crowd under control.

Per AllThingsD, after an unruly crowd disrupted the release of Apple’s iPhone 4S at its flagship location in Beijing, Apple has decided to postpone the sale of its best-selling handset at its official retail locations in China, though the device will still be available through its carrier partner and authorized resellers, albeit the company has confirmed that it will delay sales of the iPhone 4S at retail locations in Beijing and Shanghai.

“The demand for iPhone 4S has been incredible, and our stores in China have already sold out,” an Apple spokesperson told the publication. “Unfortunately we were unable to open our store at Sanlitun due to the large crowd, and to ensure the safety of our customers and employees, iPhone will not available in our retail stores in Beijing and Shanghai for the time being. Customers can still order iPhone through the Apple Online Store, or buy at China Unicom and other authorized resellers.”

Apple retail staff at the Sanlitun Apple Store in Beijing put signs out Friday afternoon with a note saying, “This store will not be selling the iPhone in the recent future.”

Apple had previously announced that the iPhone 4S would go on sale at its Sanlitun retail store in Beijing at 7AM local time (6PM Eastern), but altercations between scalpers and line-waiters have allegedly delayed the launch. As of 8AM, the store had yet to open.

The imminent launch of Apple’s latest handset in China had attracted thousands of customers outside the company’s five stores throughout the country. Security barricades had originally been set up to manage the crowd at the Sanlitun store earlier in the week, but they were taken down sometime on Thursday night or Friday morning.

Remnants of the crowd outside Sanlitun Apple Store in Beijing early on Friday, Jan. 13.

One journalist on location in Beijing claimed that Apple had canceled the launch because fights had broken out during the night, while some crowd members claimed Apple would take orders for the iPhone 4S at the store on Friday without distributing the devices.

Groups of professional line-waiters and scalpers could be seen congregating outside the store early Friday. As the 7AM launch time came and went without Apple opening its doors, a number of them became disgruntled. Shouts of “Open the door!” rang periodically rang throughout the crowd. At one point, a group of unhappy line-waiters left shouting profanities at Apple. Several individuals were forcefully escorted away by security officials, though it was not immediately clear why they were being removed.

It was reported on Friday that some angry customers pelted the Apple Store with eggs after it was revealed that the device would not go on sale. According to the publication, the Apple Store in the Pudong district of Shanghai opened an hour early and has begun selling the iPhone 4S.

The 16GB iPhone 4S is selling for 4,988RMB (US$790) on Apple China’s online store, while the 32GB and 64GB models sell for 5,888RMB and 6,788RMB, respectively. Estimated shipping time is currently two weeks. China Unicom is also offering iPhone 4S for free with a multi-year contract on plans starting at 286RMB (US$45).

The well-organized secondary market in Beijing has led to conflicts at the Sanlitun store in the past. Last year, the release of the iPad 2 and white iPhone 4 was marred by an incident that resulted in a broken glass door and several injuries.

In addition to China, Apple is scheduled to launch the iPhone 4S in 21 more countries on Friday.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Skype updated to version 5.5.0.2069

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Date: Friday, January 13th, 2012, 04:01
Category: News, Software

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On Thursday, version 5.5.0.2069 of the Skype VoIP application was released as a public beta). The new version, a 23.2 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

– Improved Call UI.

– Accept incoming call with video.

– Improvements in quality and stabilization.

Skype 5.5.0.2069 is available for free and requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know.

Google releases Picasa 3.9.2.539 update

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Date: Thursday, January 12th, 2012, 11:07
Category: News, Software

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On Friday, software giant Google released Picasa 3.9.2.539, the latest version of its photo organization program for the Mac. Once installed, Picasa imports (without moving or copying) photos from the iPhoto library as well as other folders and external hard drives on your Mac. The program also includes assorted editing tools for straightening, text generation, red eye removal, collage creation and Photoshop-like effects and adjustments. The new version, a 33.1 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

– Fixed various crashes.

– Fixed an issue with users not being able to log in.

– Fixed some issues with nametags and contacts.

Picasa 3.9.2.539 requires 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.