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.

Apple extends replacement program for MacBook bottom case, bumps claim period from two to four years

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Date: Thursday, April 18th, 2013, 06:16
Category: MacBook, News, retail

You remember Apple’s somewhat-weird polycarbonate MacBook with the rubber bottom?

And how the rubber bottom had its own oddities?

Well, Apple’s extending the coverage period on said weird rubber bottom.

Per MacRumors, Apple last week quietly made a change to its program regarding defective MacBook bottom cases, extending the coverage period from two years after purchase to four years.


macbookrubber

The program’s extension comes as the original end-by date quickly approaches, and now gives affected MacBook owners four years from the original purchase date to make a claim.

In May of 2011, Apple initiated the bottom case replacement program for MacBooks shipped between October 2009 and April 2011, citing an issue in which the non-slip rubber bottom of the polycarbonate MacBook would separate from the chassis. Variations of Apple’s rubber design can be found in current generation products like the Mac mini and AirPort Extreme.

Under the terms, which will remain unchanged, Apple will replace any affected unit free of charge, regardless of warranty status.

Apple will continue to offer three options for case replacement: an appointment with an Apple Genius at an Apple Retail Store; repair through an Authorized Service Provider; and a do-it-yourself kit that includes all materials and instructions needed to replace the component.

The company notes that last week’s extension may not be the last, as it will continue to evaluate the service data and provide further program supplementation if deemed necessary.

Foxconn begins gearing up for iPhone 5S mass production

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Date: Tuesday, April 16th, 2013, 07:38
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

Don’t worry…your next-gen iPhone is en route.

Or at least being constructed.

Per iMore and the Wall Street Journal, Apple has been targeting an August time frame for the next-generation iPhone 5S, and while that may or may not include more recently rumored software scheduling issues, it does sound like the general time frame is still accurate enough for Foxconn to start ramping up for production. Lorraine Luk of the Wall Street Journal writes:

[Foxconn] said Monday it has added about 10,000 assembly-line workers per week in Zhengzhou, its major production facility for iPhones, since the last week of March.

“We have been very busy recently as we will start mass-producing the new iPhone soon,” said a Zhengzhou-based executive who has direct knowledge of production plans.

If Apple sticks to its 2009 and 2011 pattern of keeping the same casing two years in a row and releasing an S-class update, then presumably it’ll be an easier ramp up than last year where the manufacturing technology needed to produce the insanely redesigned iPhone 5 led to the usual transitional hiccups and supply constraints.

If that’s the case, then software and services, namely iOS 7, and iCloud could be the major factors in determining the final release window for Apple next iPhone.

To date, every new iPhone has shipped with a new version of iOS, and the iPhone 4S shipped with iCloud. That coupling makes for greater product impact, but also greater dependency.

Hopefully, if hardware is ramping up, that’s a sign everything else is also starting to line back up.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Recently published Apple patents show possible road to improved pedometer accuracy, possible health accessory

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Date: Thursday, April 4th, 2013, 07:04
Category: News, Patents

applelogo_silver

It’s the patent filings that show the useful stuff coming down the road.

Per AppleInsider, three filings published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday reveal Apple is working to improve the accuracy of pedometer readings when implemented in mobile devices, hinting that the company may be planning an entrance into the health accessory industry.

While Apple’s patents (1, 2, 3), each titled “Techniques for improved pedometer readings,” don’t specifically mention a wearable accessory, the technology detailed can easily be applied to such a device. Perhaps most interesting is that Apple filed three separate patent applications describing three different pedometer logging techniques, yet the company has yet to implement a first-party solution or product that leverages such technology.

Each filing looks to solve the same problem: pedometer accuracy. Current devices, even those specifically made to track a user’s steps, are not completely accurate due to hardware and software limitations. Apple’s invention hopes to rectify the situation through intelligent data collection and processing.

The patent applications start out by describing a pedometer, which is a device having motion sensing capabilities, such as a built-in accelerometer or gyroscope, that provides step count, running step count, distance traveled and other metrics. It is pointed out that the device described in some embodiments is not limited to one suitable for step detection, meaning the tech can be applied to smartphones and the like.

Conventional techniques detects steps using acceleration swing over a fixed threshold, but Apple’s invention uses adaptive threshold and frequency filtering to garner more accurate results. Frequency analysis can include fast Fourier transform (FFT) or other algorithms, while distance calibration can apply least squares simple regression, least squares multiple regression, or K-factor.

However, by using fixed threshold techniques, some steps may not be detected due to offsets or shifts in the accelerometer. For example, when a user of the device is running, the average acceleration of the device may be higher due to the greater acceleration of each footstep and the overall faster forward motion. Due to the higher offset of average acceleration during running measurements, some negative slope 88 to positive slope 86 threshold crossings may not be detected. For example, the negative slope 88 to positive slope 86 transition at point 94 in the graphed modulus 52 does not cross the 1 g threshold between peaks 92a and 90a. As a result, while peaks 92a and 90a may actually correspond to two steps (e.g., a left step and a right step), conventional threshold filtering techniques may detect only one step due to the lack of a negative to positive transition (e.g., point 94) crossing below the fixed 1 g threshold.

These methods allow for a finer set of data due that can conform more readily to changes in stride and a user’s personal physical attributes. On that point, a GUI is also implemented into which weight, height and other user specifics can be entered for processing with the given algorithms.

By using these advanced methods, a more accurate assessment of user motion can be tracked, consequently generating more accurate pedometer data.

The language goes on to detail the various algorithms and implementations of adaptive threshold and frequency filtering.

Third-party app makers have indeed created pedometer software that uses data from the iPhone’s built-in sensors to track steps taken and estimated distance traveled, but Apple itself has yet to launch such an asset. Furthermore, the invention seeks to improve upon existing techniques, suggesting the company is planning to implement the tech in a pedometer app, or possibly a wearable device like the much-rumored “iWatch.”

All three applications were filed for in September of 2011 and credit Yash Rohit Modi, Vinay Bethgiri Ganesh Dixit and Saurabh Gupta as their inventors.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: T-Mobile USA to announce iPhone today

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Date: Tuesday, March 26th, 2013, 07:12
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The T-Mobile/iPhone news you’ve been hankering for could arrive today.

Per CNET, T-Mobile has an event scheduled for later today called “Uncarrier” and is expected to announce its carrying of the iPhone under new no-contract, no-subsidy rules, where a customer pays a small fee upfront and pays a monthly charge on top of the service plan to cover the phone costs.

T-Mobile previously deployed their faster 3G/HSPA data speeds on what’s known as AWS, a range of frequencies different than those of AT&T, and not supported by Apple and the iPhone. T-Mobile has been adding non-AWS HSPA support in many markets over the last couple of years. T-Mobile has also been trailing the other networks when it comes to 4G/LTE data speeds, with support for that only beginning this year.

The iPhone’s popularity means Apple can charge the carriers a premium price for it, making it a potentially lucrative but an immediately expensive proposition for carriers. The original iPhone launched on AT&T in June 2007. The iPhone 4 launched on Verizon in January 2011. The iPhone 4S launched on Sprint in October 2011.

If this rumor pans out, the iPhone 5 will launch on T-Mobile USA sometime in the spring of 2013.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft to begin automatically pushing Windows 7 Service Pack 1 update starting today

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Date: Tuesday, March 19th, 2013, 06:03
Category: News, Software

windows7logo

If your Windows 7 partition seems to be updating itself after you’ve booted into it, there’s a reason why.

Per ZDNet, as Microsoft marches toward its early April 2013 end of free support deadline for Windows 7, the company is planning to update automatically some of those who still have yet to install the first (and seemingly only) Service Pack for the operating system.

As announced on March 18 via its “Blogging Windows” blog, Microsoft plans to begin rolling out Windows 7 SP1 automatically, via Windows Update to Windows 7 users who still are running the release-to-manufacturing (RTM) version without SP1 installed. This process will begin on March 19.

From the blog post:

“Starting tomorrow, the installation will be fully automatic with no user action required for those who already have Automatic Update enabled. SP1 will be released gradually over the coming weeks to all customers on the RTM version of Windows 7. The service pack will take slightly longer to install compared to other updates. To ensure Service Pack 1 is installed without issue, customers should check for sufficient free disk space and that AC power is present on a laptop. If additional space needs to be created, we recommend using the Disk Cleanup tool to delete some files so that the service pack will install. If the service pack installation is interrupted, it will reattempt to install automatically after the next restart.”

This automatic update will be applied only to Windows 7 consumer PCs that are not managed via other Microsoft management tools like System Center Configuration Manager or Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), the post noted. Some admins have chosen to temporarily block their users from getting SP1 until they’ve tested it to their satisfaction. Those in that category won’t be getting SP1 pushed to them starting tomorrow.

Windows 7 RTM, with no service pack installed, will no longer be supported as of April 9, 2013, according to a February 14 post on the Microsoft Springboard Series blog. Support for specific Windows releases ends 24 months after the release of a new Service Pack, and Windows 7 SP1 was released in February 2011.

Windows 7 SP1 mainstream (free) support continues until January 13, 2015. Extended (paid) support for Windows 7 SP1 is available until January 14, 2020. (Microsoft continues to provide security updates for free during the Extended support phase of a product.)

Microsoft made available last week a Windows 7 hotfix rollup that includes 90 previously released hotfixes.

So, if you’ve been lax with the “Windows Update” feature on your Windows 7 partition, it might just do it for you.

Rumor: Apple’s next-gen “budget” iPhone to feature same 4-inch display as current iPhone 5

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Date: Friday, March 15th, 2013, 07:09
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Just because you’re buying the economy model doesn’t mean you have to settle for a smaller screen.

Per AppleInsider, contrary to some rumors suggesting Apple’s low-cost iPhone will have a larger 4.5-inch display, the company’s new entry-level handset will have a 4-inch display, matching the size of the iPhone 5.

The details on Apple’s so-called “budget” iPhone were revealed on Friday by Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, who has a reliable track record in predicting Apple’s future product plans. According to Kuo, the specs for Apple’s low-cost iPhone were decided in 2011, and the company is “unlikely to abruptly change” due to a market shift toward larger screens in the 5-inch range.

The new, less expensive iPhone model is said to have a “super-thin plastic casing mixed with glass fiber.” The material will make it stronger, thinner and lighter than typical smartphone plastic casings, Kuo said.

He expects the thickness to be between 0.4 and 0.6 millimeters, which is thinner than the average plastic casing at between 0.7 and 1 millimeter.

The phone will also reportedly come in a range of colors, much like Apple’s iPod lineup. According to Kuo, there will be between four and six options, expanding from the black and white choices currently available on existing iPhone models.

Apple is said to have contracted with Foxconn as well as Green Point of the Jabil group for its strong and thin iPhone plastic casings. Hon Hai will both build casings and assemble the phones, while Jabil is expected to provide its casings to Pegatron, which will assemble the remaining iPhones. The analyst reported earlier this week that Apple was likely to diversify manufacturers for both its low-cost and legacy iPhones.

Kuo’s latest report issued on Friday was specifically issued to dispel claims made in the rumor mill that claimed Foxconn would be losing orders for Apple’s low-cost iPhone. The report erroneously indicated that the device would have a larger display than 4 inches.

The latest information from Kuo corroborates other rumored details present within the tech industry. That report claimed the “budget” iPhone will feature a 5-inch display like the iPhone 5, but will also borrow some design elements from the latest iPod touch and even the legacy iPod classic, with a flat back made of plastic.

In addition to a low-cost iPhone based on the design of the iPhone 5, Kuo also expects Apple to release an updated premium “iPhone 5S” later this year. He has previously revealed that the next high-end iPhone is expected to include a fingerprint sensor under the home button that will eliminate the need to enter passwords and potentially add new functionality such as secure e-wallet transactions through Passbook.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Microsoft releases Office 2011 14.3.2, Microsoft Office 2008 12.3.6 updates for Mac

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Date: Tuesday, March 12th, 2013, 09:17
Category: News, Software

On Tuesday, Microsoft released its Microsoft Office 2011 14.3.2 update. The update, a 118 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and features:

- This update fixes critical issues and also helps to improve security. It includes fixes for vulnerabilities that an attacker can use to overwrite the contents of your computer’s memory with malicious code.

Microsoft Office 2011 14.3.2 requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run.

The company also released its Office 2008 12.3.6 update, a 219.9 megabyte download (via MacUpdate), which offers the following fixes and changes:

- This update fixes critical issues and also helps to improve security. It includes fixes for vulnerabilities that an attacker can use to overwrite the contents of your computer’s memory with malicious code.

Microsoft Office 2008 12.3.6 requires Mac OS X 10.4.9 or later to install and run.