Siri to arrive on wider array of devices, gain additional features in iOS 6

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Date: Tuesday, June 12th, 2012, 06:28
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

Even if Siri can be a bit flummoxing at times, Apple believes in it.

Per Macworld, company representatives stated during the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote Monday that Siri will have a starring role in iOS 6, the next version of the operating system that powers the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Representatives also cited that the technology will move just the iPhone 4S to the latest version of Apple’s iPad.

During his demonstration, Apple’s Scott Forstall pointed out how Siri on iOS 6 can launch apps. Forstall demonstrated by launching Temple Run with a voice command.

Siri’s integration with iOS 6’s overhauled Maps app runs deep. Ask Siri how to get somewhere, and you immediately get turn-by-turn directions—even from the lock screen. Then you can ask Siri to repeat herself, where gas stations are along the way, what the traffic is like, how long until you get there, and every traveling kid’s favorite question: “Are we there yet?”

Forstall also mentioned a new feature called Eyes Free. He said Apple is working together with car manufacturers to integrate a button for triggering Siri from your steering wheel; among the companies looking to integrate that feature in the next twelve months are GM, BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Chrysler, and Honda.

Siri’s also getting more international, with support for Canadian French and English; Italian; Spanish (for Spain, Mexico, and the U.S.); Swiss Italian, French, and German; Mandarin for Taiwan; Cantonese for Hong Kong; and Mandarin and Cantonese for mainland China.

And soon another iOS device will find its voice, too: Forstall said the third-generation iPad will get Siri support as well.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Dropbox updated to 1.5.1 via public beta

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Date: Monday, June 11th, 2012, 06:31
Category: News, Software

You just can’t knock a decent Dropbox update.

On Friday, Dropbox released a beta of version 1.5.1 of its cloud-based storage client for Mac OS X. The new version, a 22.4 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Fixed “lazy” install not working on 10.4.

– Fixed rare bug where Dropbox will notify you of your own changes.

– Performance improvements.

– Korean Language support.

Dropbox 1.5.1 requires Mac OS X 10.4 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.

Google releases Picasa 3.9.9.637 update

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Date: Monday, June 11th, 2012, 06:01
Category: News, Software

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Over the weekend, software giant Google released Picasa 3.9.9.637, 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.

Picasa 3.9.9.637 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.

Adium updated to 1.5.1

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Date: Friday, June 8th, 2012, 06:25
Category: News, Software

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Adium, the open source instant message chat client with support for multiple programs (including AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ, Jabber, MSN, Yahoo! Google Talk, Bonjour, etc.) has been updated to version 1.5.1.

The new version, a 23.7 megabyte download adds the following fixes and changes:

– Adium is now securely signed with an Apple Developer ID for OS X 10.8 / GateKeeper compatibility.

– Updated to libpurple 2.10.4

– AIM/ICQ: Fixed communication with buddies containing periods and underscores.

– MSN: Fixed messages to offline contacts.

– Fixed a number of security issues (see http://pidgin.im/news/security), small memory leaks, miscellaneous bugs.

– Fixed MSN public display names not being set. (Chenguang Li) (#15915)

– Adjusted the minimum size of the message window to be 200px. (#15794)

– Fixed status indicators in chat windows with only one chat. (#9620)

– Increased the size of the focus indicators so that they can be better seen when using overlay scrollbars.

– Fixed the transcript viewer not saving the user list size.

– Corrected some MSN emoticon shortcuts. (Paul Wilde) (#15926)

– Renamed “Send Notification” to “Request Attention”. (#15789)

– Adjusted the layout of the profile selection window.

– Fixed alphabetical contact list sorting involving diacritics such as “å” and “ä” (Rafael Glauber) (#12678)

– Made “View Release Notes” localizable. (#15914)

Adium 1.5.1 is available for free and requires Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later and an Intel-based Mac to run.

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

Virgin Mobile to offer iPhone calling plans starting at $30/month beginning June 29th

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Date: Thursday, June 7th, 2012, 13:56
Category: iPhone, News

It never hurts to have a cheap calling plan, even if you do have to buy the handset at the unsubsidized price…

Per AppleInsider, wireless carrier Virgin Mobile USA announced on Thursday that it will offer Apple’s iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 beginning Friday, June 29, with contract-free plans as low as US$30 per month.

Customers will be able to purchase the 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S for US$649, matching the price of a contract-free handset purchased through the Apple Store or AT&T. That’s different from regional wireless carrier Leap, which announced late last month that it would sell a 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S for US$500, meaning the carrier is subsidizing the price by about US$150.

While customers who buy the iPhone through Virgin Mobile USA will pay a higher upfront premium, they could also see considerable savings on their plans. The carrier offers customers a US$5-per-month discount when they register for automatic monthly payments, which results in a basic plan with “unlimited” data and text messaging and 300 voice minutes for US$30.

Users can upgrade to 1,200 voice minutes for $40 per month, or obtain unlimited minutes for US$50 per month. Though data is advertised as “unlimited,” all plans include 2.5 gigabytes per month of full-speed data, and any overages can be throttled.

Virgin Mobile USA will also offer Apple’s previous-generation iPhone 4 for US$549 in the 8 gigabyte capacity. The contract-free phones will be available at Virgin Mobile’s website, RadioShack, Best Buy, and select local retailers.

Word first surfaced on Tuesday that Virgin Mobile USA would become the second American carrier to offer Apple’s iPhone without a service contract. However, the launch date and exact pricing were not known until the official announcement was made Thursday by Virgin Mobile.

Virgin’s voice and data service relies on Sprint’s “Nationwide Network.” The sale of iPhones through Sprint’s Virgin mobile could go toward the US$15.5 billion in iPhones sprint had pledged to sell over a four-year span in a deal with Apple.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google unveils new 3D mapping feature for iOS, Android devices

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Date: Wednesday, June 6th, 2012, 10:05
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

You can’t knock a kickass 3D mapping system, especially when it’s on your iPhone or iPad.

Google on Wednesday unveiled what it has promoted as the “next dimension” of its Maps service, with new full 3D renderings that were demonstrated live on an Apple iPad.

Google has been using automated technology to extract data from aerial models captured by airplanes owned by the company. With planes flying overhead in tightly controlled patterns snapping pictures, Google can use the imagery and data to create three-dimensional mapping imagery.



Images of the ground are snapped from 45 degrees at four angles, and those pictures and data can be combined to recreate maps in three dimensions. The whole process allows 3D maps to be built without human interaction, unlike with previous 3D imagery in Google Earth.

In a live event on Wednesday, Google demonstrated 3D models of individual buildings and entire cities. The new features were shown off to members of the press on an Apple iPad, rather than an Android-based tablet.

The company promised that its new 3D imagery will be coming to both iOS and Android devices “in the coming weeks.” The technology will be part of both the Google Maps service, as well as its Google Earth application.

By the end of the year, Google expects to have communities home to about 300 million people mapped in its new space.

Google also revealed that it will bring an offline version of its Maps software to Android devices. The company said it is “working very hard” to bring offline Maps to iOS as well, but did not offer any more information.

Wednesday’s media event comes just five days before Apple is set to hold its own keynote address at the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference. There, Apple is expected to unveil an all-new version of its Maps software for iOS that will ditch Google Maps.

Apple’s mapping intentions have been evident since at least 2009, when the company began acquiring mapping technology companies. The iPhone maker bought Placebase that year and then Poly9 in 2010. Last year, Apple bought Swedish 3D-mapping company C3.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen iPhone to slim down to 7.9 mm, could feature front-facing HD camera

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Date: Wednesday, June 6th, 2012, 10:25
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

It’s hard to knock an interesting rumor.

Per AppleInsider, KGI analyst Mingchi Kuo said in a note to investors that in addition to the move to HD, he believes Apple will also employ a flip-chip (FC) solution for the front-facing camera on the upcoming iPhone. The camera’s position would be moved to the middle, he said.

Kuo noted that an HD front camera would better suit the 4-inch display that he expects Apple’s sixth-generation handset to have. Currently, the front-facing camera of the iPhone 4S is capable of VGA resolution.

As for the rear-facing camera, Kuo said Apple will likely retain the 8-megapixel camera while improving the aperture range to go up to f/2.2. The iPhone 4S has a maximum aperture of f/2.4. The analyst also predicted that the rear camera on the next iPhone will be noticeable thinner, “making it the most challenging iPhone design yet.”

According to his analysis, the new iPhone’s rear camera will have a CCM of 5.55mm and a lens TTL of 4mm, down from 6mm and 4.8mm on the iPhone 4S. Apple’s suppliers will reportedly face “unprecedented challenges” producing the rear camera component because of the changes to the design.

Kuo issued a report in April claiming that Apple will slim down the iPhone to 7.9mm or less. The iPhone 4S has a depth of 9.3mm. The use of an in-cell touchscreen display is expected to shave as much as 0.4mm off the phone.

Sony, which provides the CMOS for the iPhone 4S, announced this January that it had developed a thinner next-generation CMOS. Last month, camera parts allegedly bound for the next iPhone surfaced online. If the parts were indeed authentic, they would suggest that Apple plans to redesign the cameras for its sixth-generation handset.

Apple is expected to launch the new iPhone this fall in either September or October. Some reports have claimed that the device will feature a redesigned form factor and 4G LTE connectivity.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google Chrome updated to 19.0.1084.54

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Date: Wednesday, June 6th, 2012, 06:27
Category: News, Software

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Google Chrome, Google’s new web browser, just reached version 19.0.1084.54 for the Mac. The new version, a 38.6 megabyte download, offers the following changes:

– Supports the Mac transition to OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion.

Google Chrome 19.0.1084.54 requires an Intel-based Mac running 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.

Cocktail updated to 5.3.1

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Date: Wednesday, June 6th, 2012, 06:18
Category: News, Software

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On Thursday, shareware developer Maintain released version 5.3.1 of CocktailCocktail (Lion Edition), the popular shareware utility program that allows for additional Mac OS X system tests. The new version, a 3.1 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

– Added “Disable automatic termination of applications” setting (Interface – General).

– Added “Enable text copying from Quick Look” setting (Interface – Finder).

– Addresses an issue in which Cocktail may fail to create a Keychain key.

– Addresses an issue in which the Firewall log may not be rotated.

– Addresses an issue in which the “Disable local snapshots” Time Machine setting may not work properly.

Cocktail 5.3.1 retails for a US$19.00 shareware registration fee and requires Mac OS X 10.7 or later to install and run.

Virgin Mobile to offer prepaid wireless plan for iPhone in July

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Date: Tuesday, June 5th, 2012, 14:16
Category: iPhone, News

No one ever said that prepaid was out of vogue.

Per MarketWatch, Sprint’s Virgin Mobile USA will become the second American carrier to offer Apple’s iPhone without a service contract, according to a new report.

Virgin Mobile’s addition of the iPhone to its product lineup will be announced later this week. The iPhone will debut on Virgin Mobile as soon as July 1.

The deal could go toward the US$15.5 billion in iPhones Sprint has committed to sell over a four-year span. The company pledged to buy the iPhones last year in a deal that brought the iPhone to Sprint, which is the third-largest carrier in the U.S.

Last week, it was announced that Cricket Wireless would become the first prepaid carrier to sell a contract-free iPhone in the U.S. on June 22. Cricket will offer the 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S for US$500 along with an “unlimited” US$55-per-month plan.

But Cricket will only sell the iPhone in smaller markets where the brand is available, while Virgin would make the iPhone more widely available to prepaid customers. The Virgin service, which uses Sprint’s network, covers 278 million people.

The price for a prepaid iPhone through Virgin was not revealed, but the carrier has prepaid plans that begin at US$35 a month for “unlimited” capped data. Tuesday’s report said it was “unclear” whether the iPhone would be compatible with those plans.

Apple began expanding the iPhone to regional carriers last October with C Spire wireless, while more were added in April and again in May of this year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.