Microsoft releases Office 2011 14.3.6 update

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Date: Wednesday, July 17th, 2013, 12:30
Category: News, security, Software

An update’s an update.

Microsoft on Wednesday released version 14.3.6 of its Microsoft Office 2011 suite for the Mac. The update, a 113 megabyte download, features the following changes:
- This update fixes an issue in which Outlook repeatedly tried to send messages that exceeded certain server-side size limits from the Outbox. Now, messages that exceed these size limits are put in the local Drafts folder after three unsuccessful attempts to send the messages.

- This update fixes an issue in which syncing a folder from which many messages were deleted on another client frequently caused Microsoft Outlook for Mac to freeze.

- This update fixes an issue that causes Word to be unable to save files to an SMB share.

- Full release notes can be found here.

The update can also be located and installed via the Microsoft AutoUpdate feature.

Microsoft Office 2011 14.3.6 requires an Intel-based Mac running 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, let us know in the comments.

Rumor: Apple considering purchase of Israeli-based PrimeSense, creators of the Xbox Kinect

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Date: Tuesday, July 16th, 2013, 07:19
Category: Hardware, Rumor

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It’s speculation, but it could lead to something interesting.

A series of reports from Israeli publication Calcalist.co.il and 9to5Mac claims PrimeSense, the company behind the original Microsoft Kinect’s technology, is in acquisition talks with Apple, somewhere near a valuation in the US$280-US$300M range. According to the report, a delegation of PrimeSense senior executives visited Apple’s engineering offices in recent days. The purchase would bolster Apple’s living room TV interface offerings and allow Apple to add controls with body movements and hand gestures to its products.

Apple purchased Israeli Flash chip optimization company Anobit in late 2011 for US$400M+, also originally reported by Calcalist. The company now functions as one of Apple’s R&D centers in that country.

It’s been rumored that Apple is working on such 3D gesture interface and may have already been licensing IP from the Israeli firm and/or its competitors. At US$280M, Apple may believe it’s better to own this IP and technology rather than let others have access to it in the future.

Microsoft used the sensor technology that PrimeSense developed for its original Kinect, previously known as Project Natal, but has since replaced the technology with its own in-house technology for 3D body mapping and movement.

PrimeSense was founded in 2005 and is a founding member of OpenNI, an industry-led non-profit organization formed to certify and promote the compatibility and interoperability of Natural Interaction (NI) devices, applications and middleware.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Beta code hints at 120 frames-per-second camera feature for iOS 7

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Date: Wednesday, July 10th, 2013, 06:42
Category: iOS, News, Software

This could lead to something really interesting.

Per 9to5Mac, a new camera feature referred to as “Mogul” was allegedly discovered in the third beta of iOS 7. Tests suggested that the new software feature will allow video recording of 120 frames-per-second (fps) at an unknown resolution.

The addition of 120fps video would allow a future iPhone to offer crisp detail when playing videos back in slow motion. Such functionality is popular with sports cameras such as the wearable GoPro Hero3.

While the 120fps feature remains a secret, Apple has already revealed to developers that iOS 7 will give them the ability to record 60fps video with their iPhone applications.

There are currently applications on the iOS App Store, such as SloPro, which simulate high framerates in recording. However, in iOS 6, developers are not able to capture raw video at anything greater than 30 frames per second.

The addition of 120fps video in this year’s anticipated iPhone upgrade would allow Apple to stay on par with Samsung’s latest flagship handset, the Galaxy S4. That handset also offers super-slow-motion video capture capabilities with 120fps recordings.

This year, Apple has run an ad touting the fact that the iPhone is the most used camera in the world. And last year, the company promoted the new panorama capture feature that debuted in iOS 6.

However, hints of 120fps support in iOS 7 are not necessarily proof that the feature will appear in the next iPhone. For example, elements of an unfinished panorama feature were discovered in iOS 5 in 2011, more than a year before Apple would actually add it.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple offers popular apps at deep discounts, for free as App Store nears fifth anniversary on July 10th

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Date: Monday, July 8th, 2013, 06:54
Category: News, Software

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With the fifth anniversary of the iOS App Store approaching, a number of high-ranking apps will become free for a period of time.

According to The Verge, an unknown number of iOS apps are now free to download for both the iPhone and iPad, with titles spanning across genres and price ranges.

Games like Badland, Infinity Blade II, Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP, Tiny Wings, and Where’s My Water? are all complimentary, while other apps include Barefoot World Atlas, Day One, Over, and Traktor DJ for iPad. With the price slashing, users can save anywhere from US$0.99 to US$19.99.

While Apple has yet to make an official announcement regarding the free app selection, or collect them into a dedicated App Store section, it is thought that the move is in celebration of the digital storefront’s upcoming fifth anniversary on July 10.

The company sent out a poster last week detailing a timeline of major App Store milestones, including explosive growth that saw 1 billion downloads in 2009, 10 billion in 2011, and 50 billion this past May. Apple also noted that the store has generated more than US$10 billion for app developers to date.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve noticed a cool iOS app that’s free or discounted on the iOS App Store, please let us know in the comments.

Apple sets up web site, offers refunds and credits for claimants in iTunes Store class action lawsuit

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Date: Monday, June 24th, 2013, 06:42
Category: Legal, News, retail, Software

It’s hard to argue with the results of a class action lawsuit.

Still, it might be a refund coming your way thanks to your children purchasing items via the iTunes Store.

Per AppleInsider, Apple appears to have finalized the details of its settlement agreement for a class action suit over in-app purchases on iPhones and iPads, with the Cupertino company offering millions of dollars in refunds and iTunes credits.

A home page for the settlement program went live recently, laying out the options available for claimants in the class action suit over Apple’s in-app purchase policies. That suit, filed in 2011, alleged that Apple’s structure for processing in-app purchases was insufficient to stop minors from charging tens, hundreds, and sometimes thousands of dollars to their parents’ accounts without permission.

Under the settlement agreement, Apple will provide a single US$5 iTunes Store credit to claimants in the suit or a credit “equal to the total amount of Game Currency that a minor charged to your iTunes account without your knowledge or permission within a single forty-five day period.” For claimants that no longer have an active iTunes account, a cash refund is available, as is the case for those whose claims exceed US$30 in total.

All United States residents are eligible for an award from the settlement, provided that, prior to May 2, 2013, they paid for an in-app purchase in a qualified app. The purchase must have been charged to their iTunes account by a minor without their knowledge or permission. The deadline to submit a claim is January 13, 2014, and the deadline to object to or opt out of the settlement is August 30, 2013.

In-app purchases stepped into the spotlight over the last few years as developers looked for a way to further monetize their apps. As the option became more popular, complaints arose that it was too easy for children to rack up sizable charges on their parents’ accounts.

Apple already had some protections in place to stop minors from abusing in-app purchases, but the company was forced by the attention from several cases to modify its iTunes Store listings in order to warn users which apps featured additional paid content. The company has since stepped up its educational efforts in order to bring parents up to speed on what they can do to head off unwanted expenditures.

If you feel you meet the criteria for a claim, head over to the web site and let us know how your experience panned out in the comments.

Intel announces Thunderbolt 2 protocol, looks toward 2013 launch

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Date: Wednesday, June 5th, 2013, 06:33
Category: Hardware, News

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This could be really, really sexy.

Per AppleInsider, Intel on Tuesday finally put a name to its next-generation Thunderbolt protocol as “Thunderbolt 2,” with the newly dubbed standard doubling the throughput of its predecessor while remaining backward compatible.

Previously referred to by its codename “Falcon Ridge,” Thunderbolt 2 will boast a bandwidth of 20Gbps, which Intel said is good enough for the simultaneous transfer and display of 4K “Ultra HD” video.

To double the speed, Intel is using a new controller chip that combines the first generation Thunderbolt’s 10Gpbs uni-directional channels into a single 20Gbps bi-directional channel. In addition, Thunderbolt 2 will carry support for DisplayPort 1.2, enabling video streaming to one 4K monitor, or dual QHD displays.

Because the next-generation protocol is, in essence, a modified controller chip, Thunderbolt 2 requires no new cables or accessory hardware, meaning it will be completely backward compatible with existing Thunderbolt products.

While Thunderbolt has yet to see wide adoption outside of Apple’s Mac lineup, Intel claims 30 PCs and motherboards now use the I/O tech. That’s in addition to the 80 peripherals and accessories that made their way to market since Thunderbolt first debuted with Apple’s late-2011 Mac lineup.

Despite being marketed as a cutting-edge interconnect technology targeting professionals in the video field, Apple still does not offer Thunderbolt in its Mac Pro tower.

In a report last week, Intel stated that it plans to extend the standard’s reach beyond the few product that currently use the tech, and has up to now focused on quality over quantity.

The chip maker has yet to nail down a specific date on Thunderbolt 2′s release, but said it should be in production by the end of 2013, with a ramp into 2014.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: iOS 7 to include long-awaited AirDrop file sharing feature

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Date: Monday, June 3rd, 2013, 06:57
Category: iOS, Rumor, Software

Granted, no one has ANY REAL IDEA as to what iOS 7′s interface will look like, but there’s some cool new and improved features rumored to be coming down the pipe.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple is currently testing versions of iOS 7 internally that include the AirDrop WiFi-direct file sharing tool from the Mac, according to sources close to the story.

Like the rumored Flickr and Vimeo integration that’s been making the rounds, it is very simple for Apple to remove any single feature from the new operating system ahead of the mid-June unveiling.

Additionally, Apple has scrapped AirDrop late in software development from iOS before. Last year, we reported that Apple was developing an AirDrop tool to take advantage of the new WiFi hardware inside of Apple’s latest iOS devices. Because Apple has postponed the feature before, we believe it is possible that the feature could be pushed back again…

Sources say that the AirDrop functionality is currently integrated into the standard iOS share menu. AirDrop will work between two iOS devices and potentially between an iOS device and a Mac. The feature will make it easier than ever to transfer, for example, a photograph or document from one person’s iPhone to another person’s iPad.

While iCloud synchronization works well for sharing photos and documents between two iOS devices owned by the same person, the AirDrop feature will allow seamless individual file exchanges between iOS devices belonging to different people. Apple launched this functionality between Mac computers in 2011 with OS X Lion.

Notably, this potential addition will increase feature parity between Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems. Android has included peer-to-peer file sharing for multiple releases of the software, but the implementation can be confusing due to fragmentation. For example, Samsung has its own unique fork of peer-to-peer file sharing while Google’s stock Android builds include its own implementation. AirDrop for iOS will be seamless in that it will work the same way on all of Apple’s supported products.

Finally, rumors have also pointed towards improved in-car-integration for Maps and Siri – something I think most iOS users can appreciate.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft releases Office 2011 14.3.4, incorporates Office 365 functionality into newest version

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Date: Wednesday, May 8th, 2013, 06:54
Category: News, Software

This one’s been something of a long time coming.

Per AppleInsider, Microsoft on Tuesday released version 14.3.4 of its Microsoft Office 2011 suite for the Mac. The update, a 113 megabyte download, includes a variety of feature additions that brings the application suite somewhat up to spec with its Windows counterpart, and includes bug fixes for compatibility issues that hindered interoperability between PC and Mac versions of Word, Outlook and other titles.

Perhaps most important is the ability for existing Office for Mac 2011 users to integrate with Office 365, a subscription service that offers users access to the latest Office software updates, as well as SkyDrive cloud storage and SharePoint access for Word.

Fixes included in the new version:
- Coauthoring session with Microsoft PowerPoint Web App and Microsoft PowerPoint for Mac.

- After token expires, does not prompt for credentials in Microsoft Outlook for Mac.

- Calibri Light font not included in Office for Mac.

- SetupUI is shown to user on start after Office for Mac is already activated.

- Saving files to SkyDrive and SharePoint in Microsoft Word for Mac.

- Folder contains excess white space: Error 1025 in Outlook for Mac.

- XLIST command that is used by Gmail is deprecated in Outlook for Mac.

- Local group mail cannot be sent in Outlook for Mac.

- Remote devices lose control while in Presentation Mode in Microsoft PowerPoint for Mac.

- File format extension support in PowerPoint for Mac.

- Searching continues after user cancels in Outlook for Mac.

- Items go into Junk Mail in Outlook for Mac.

- Blocked Senders List under Junk Email Protection in Outlook for Mac.

In a recent change to its pricing policies, Microsoft placed Office 2011 for Mac in the same tier as its more current PC counterpart Office 2013 for Windows. At the time, it was thought that the Redmond, Wash., company was pushing Mac users toward an Office 365 subscription due to the deprecation of multi-license bundles.

With Tuesday’s update, Office 2011 users can sign up for Microsoft Office 365 if they so choose. Subscription to the Home Premium edition costs US$99.99 per year, or US$9.99 per month, and grants the use of Office on up to five computers.

In order to take advantage of the newest Office for Mac 2011 version, existing owners must have version 14.1.0 or higher installed on a machine running OS X 10.5.8 or later, while Office 365 requires an Intel Mac and OS X 10.6 or higher.

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

T-Mobile sells 500,000 iPhones in first 30 days, sees first subscriber growth in four years

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Date: Wednesday, May 8th, 2013, 05:42
Category: iPhone, News, retail

T-Mobile and the iPhone seem to be getting along just fine, even in the first stages of the relationship.

Per 9to5Mac, wireless carrier T-Mobile just released its first earnings report since it started officially carrying the iPhone on April 12th and ‘coincidentally’ the first where it has picked up customers in 17 quarters. The carrier had accumulated 2.1M iPhone users without even carrying the iPhone up until it launched in April, which is up from 1 million in 2011.

T-Mobile tallied approximately 500,000 iPhone 5 sales in the first 30 days which is stronger than you might initially imagine, especially off a launch cycle. Other US carriers who have reported iPhone sales in the millions over 3 months note that about half of their sales are iPhone 5 (the other half are the cheaper iPhone 4 and 4S models).

The US #4 carrier saw its subscriber base increase by 579,000 customers, a number likely directly correlated to iPhone sales. In addition, T-Mobile will be adding 9 million MetroPCS users over the coming quarters to its ranks. T-Mobile also ran into some legal problems last month and was forced to change its marketing terminology with regards to ‘no-contract plans’ and was forced to offer customers refunds.

If you’ve snagged an iPhone running on the T-Mobile network and have any feedback to offer about the experience, please let us know in the comments.

Apple files patent applications for curved battery technology, could lead to unique new devices

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Date: Thursday, May 2nd, 2013, 08:44
Category: News, Patents

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If nothing else, the patent applications tell you what’s coming down the pipe.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a pair of patent applications (1, 2) filed by Apple reveal the company is working on unorthodox battery designs with curved cells and irregular shapes, suggesting slimmer, more shapely iOS devices could be on the horizon.

The patents filings for “Curved battery cells for portable electronic devices” and “Non-rectangular batteries for portable electronic devices,” both describe methods in which a battery can be designed and manufactured for incorporation into slim, new device chassis.

Both filed for on Oct. 28, 2011, the applications call for battery cells to be manipulated during the manufacturing phase in order to facilitate easy installation into curved and non-rectangular device designs.

For example, the invention regarding curved batteries uses industry standard production techniques, which include a set of layers, a cathode, an anode, a separator and active coatings, before manipulating the unit to a given specification. Like some batteries already on the market, Apple’s proposed design uses a flexible pouch to enclose the cell layers created by the separator.

The pouch is then exposed to pressure of “at least 0.13 kilogram-force (kgf) per square millimeter” and heat of about 85 degrees Celsius in a set of curved plates in order to set the shape. As noted, this process may take as long as four hours.

In some embodiments, the curve is held by employing a binder coating within the battery cell, which is activated during the curing process to laminate the layers together. The resulting structure would be solid and take the shape of curved plates.

From the filing’s summary:
“In some embodiments, the curve is formed to facilitate efficient use of space inside a portable electronic device. For example, the curve may be formed at one or more ends of the battery cell to allow the battery cell to occupy a curved and/or rounded space within the enclosure of a laptop computer, tablet computer, mobile phone, personal digital assistant (PDA), digital camera, portable media player, and/or other type of battery-powered electronic device.”

In the second application a similar method is employed, but where the former uses pressure and heat to set the shape, the “non-rectangular” property removes material from the battery before stacking the cell layers. An example is given of how a non-rectangular shape can be achieved by removing material from one or more sides of the anode and cathode to form a rounded corner. By utilizing this method, varying thicknesses can be achieved, such as those seen in the fourth-generation iPad.

Both techniques aim to shape a battery that fits snugly into a device’s housing, thereby reducing wasted internal space. While merely speculation, the battery designs could be used in an upcoming version of the iPhone or iPad, both of which are becoming increasingly slim as consumers demand thin, lightweight portables.

Also a possibility is the use of such battery design in an iPhone with a “wrap-around” display, the patent of which passed through the USPTO in late March. While it is unlikely that such a device will make it to market in the near future, if ever, the recent patent filings show Apple is continuously looking for innovative ways to save space in its iOS device lineup.

Both patent applications credit Ramesh C. Bhardwaj, John Raff, Stephen R. McClure, Erik L. Wang and Taisup Hwang as their inventors.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.