Apple releases Aperture 3.1.3 update

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Date: Thursday, July 14th, 2011, 04:56
Category: News, Software

Early Thursday, Apple released version 3.1.3 of Aperture, its pro-grade image editing application. The new version, a 292 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- Improves reliability and performance when syncing web-published albums.

- Slideshow exports are now handled as a background operation.

- Crop tool now correctly supports use of gestures to define crop size.

- Gesture support can now be enabled or disabled in Preferences.

- Fixes an issue that could cause a blank sheet to display when placing a book or print order.

- Published MobileMe, Facebook and Flickr albums now appear in a Web section in the Projects Inspector.

- Shift-clicking snapshots on the Faces corkboard now allows you to make contiguous selections.

- Metadata presets are now correctly applied to imported audio files.

- Fixes an issue that could cause Aperture to quit unexpectedly when trimming audio in full screen mode.

- Resolves various issues when adding names to Faces using accented, Japanese, Korean or Simplified Chinese characters.

- Improves stability when browsing video clips.

- Addresses reliability of library repair and rebuild.

Aperture retails for US$199 and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run.

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

Microsoft to open 75 retail locations over next 2-3 years

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Date: Wednesday, July 13th, 2011, 13:16
Category: News, Retail Store

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If you can’t beat ‘em, follow their lead and eventually try to take them down.

Per Neowin, Microsoft plans to massively expand its retail presence to take in the U.S. in the next 2 to 3 years, with an aggressive goal of 75 new stores to take on Apple’s own retail operations.

The plans are said to be part of the company’s effort to expand the “Microsoft story,” an initial map showing clusters of stores in California, Texas, Florida and the Northeast.

Microsoft gave a presentation at its Worldwide Partner Conference on Wednesday. Currently, the Redmond, Wash., software giant has a total of 11 stores across America, mostly in California, with a new one that just opened in Los Angeles.

“Also shown off during this presentation was that an Apple retailer in Latin America was showing off Apple hardware running Windows 7,” the report said. “Microsoft used this to poke fun that Apple makes fantastic hardware but their OS is still behind Windows 7.”

Microsoft first announced in early 2009 that the company planned to open new retail stores, in an approach that mimics Apple’s own wildly successful retail operations. The company pushed hard with viral marketing buzz, and even poached employees from Apple’s retail operations with the promise of pay raises and compensation for moving expenses.

In a recent instance, Microsoft was able to court an Apple retail market manager who had recently left the company. That person said they were offered a pay raise and were then allegedly asked to contact employees they had previously worked with at Apple in an effort to recruit them.

Little has been said of Microsoft’s retail operations since their debut in 2009, but Wednesday’s latest development indicates that the company has high hopes for the future of its brick-and-mortar ventures. The news comes as it was revealed that Apple single-handedly accounted for one fifth of all sales growth by publicly traded American retailers during the first three months of 2011.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 5 beta 3, iTunes 10.5 beta to developer community

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Date: Tuesday, July 12th, 2011, 07:17
Category: News, Software

Late Monday Apple iOS 5 beta 3 to developers, the latest pre-release build of its forthcoming mobile operating system update for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

Per the Mac Observer, sources with access to the latest beta now available for download said it is dubbed Build 9A5259f and that significant changes to the software have yet to be listed, but also cited that the new build said that iMessage users on iOS 5 beta 3 will be unable to communicate with iMessage users running iOS 5 beta 1. Communication between beta 3 and beta 2 reportedly works just fine.

The new software is also said to fix an issue in which the Apple TV screen saver could degrade mirroring performance over AirPlay. iOS 5 will allow wireless mirroring when used in concert with the new Apple TV.

Also reportedly addressed in the latest build is an issue where the Reminders application did not send notifications upon the entry or exit of a location if there is no specific date associated with the location-based reminder.

The pre-release software, which is made available to members of Apple’s iOS development community, is not intended for use on end-user machines. A list of bugs that still remain in the latest build were reportedly provided to developers with beta 3.

The second iOS 5 beta was released in late June, and it brought about wireless syncing of devices. Wireless syncing with an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch also requires that developers be running a beta version of Apple’s iTunes desktop client.

Accordingly, a new, third beta of iTunes 10.5 was also provided to developers on Monday.

The first beta of iOS 5 was issued to developers after it was unveiled in early June. The final software, which will become publicly available this fall, will pack more than 200 new user features including the new Notification Center.

Also released on Monday to developers was a new golden master for Xcode 4.1. It reportedly features interface builder support for auto layout, new Aqua controls, and full-screen support in the main Xcode workspace.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen MacBook Air notebook to once again include backlit keyboards

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Date: Tuesday, July 12th, 2011, 06:29
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

The new MacBook Air: It might just feature the shiny coolness that is a backlit keyboard.

With the release of new models later this month, Apple is set to reinstate a feature to its MacBook Airs that went missing when the company overhauled the ultra-thin notebooks into more cost-affordable products late last year.

Per AppleInsider, according to sources close to the story, backlit keyboards will join the string of hardware enhancements planned for the new 11.6- and 13.3-inch notebooks, which are also expected to adopt high-speed Thunderbolt ports, an upgrade to Intel’s Sandy Bridge architecture, and possibly high-speed 400MBps flash memory.

The omission late last year of keyboard backlights — which help illuminate the keys on a keyboard in dim lighting scenarios — from Apple’s current lineup of MacBook Airs was particularly glaring given that all three iterations of the first-generation of MacBook Airs (Early 2008 to Mid-2009) included them as standard features.

Given Apple’s energy saving controls, software expertise, and the nominal cost associated with including keyboard backlights, it was never particularly clear why Apple opted to leave out the feature when it redesigned the MacBook Air line last October. One industry watcher even went as far as to call it “planned obsolescence” on Apple’s part.

Nevertheless, people familiar with the matter say Apple’s white 13.3-inch MacBook will once again be the only notebook from the company to lack keyboard backlights once the new Airs make their debut sometime during the week of July 21st.

According to sources, Apple has been holding off shipments of roughly 400,000 of these new MacBook Airs until it can image them with the finalized Golden Master build of Mac OS X Lion, which privately began making its way to developers last week.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple offers update for iLife ’11 programs

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Date: Tuesday, July 12th, 2011, 06:19
Category: News, Software

Following up on yesterday’s stories about Apple issuing updates for iMovie and iPhoto, the company also released significant updates the the GarageBand, iWeb and iDVD components of its iLife ’11 suite.

Per AppleInsider, the other iLife ’11 updates offer the following fixes and changes:

- GarageBand 6.0.4 fixes an issue with lesson downloads from the GarageBand Lesson Store. It also corrects issues with tempo-based effects falling out of sync and resolves problems with Magic GarageBand project files.

The update is a 53.72MB download requiring Mac OS X 10.6.7 or later to install and runand is recommended for all users of GarageBand ’11.

- iWeb 3.0.4: A long-awaited and surprising update, as Apple indicated in a FAQ last month that iWeb publishing will get the ax when the MobileMe service is shuttered permanently on June 30, 2012.

iWeb has not received a major revision since Apple released iLife ’09 in January 2009. That update added new iWeb Widgets, such as iSight video and photos, a countdown timer, YouTube video and RSS feeds and integrated FTP publishing. Apple quietly bundled the older versions of iWeb and iDVD into iLife ’11 when it was released last October.

The release notes for iWeb 3.0.4 do not indicate any specific changes, noting only that the update “improves overall stability and addresses a number of minor issues.” The 178.57MB download is recommended for all iWeb 3 users and requires Mac OS X 10.6.4 or later to install and run.

- iDVD 7.1.2: Monday’s update to iDVD improves reliability of imported iPhoto ’11 slideshows. fixes a problem that could prevent files from re-linking and addresses an issue that could cause iDVD to use all available CPU capacity when searching for missing files.

iDVD 7.1.2 is recommended for all iDVD 7 users. The 36.12MB download requires Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later to install and run.

Apple also offes iPhoto, GarageBand and iMovie individually in the Mac App Store, though it has chosen not to make iWeb and iDVD available.

If you’ve installed the updates and noticed any major changes, please let us know.

Apple releases iMovie 9.0.4 update

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Date: Monday, July 11th, 2011, 09:56
Category: News, Software

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On Monday, Apple released iMovie 9.0.4, the latest version of its consumer-level video editing application. The new version, a 76.2 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Support for opening projects imported from iMovie for iOS.

- Fixes an issue where some audio adjustments were not preserved.

- Addresses a performance issue when using large quantities of video clips with keywords.

- Resolves issue with slow application launch when working with large iPhoto libraries.

iMovie 9.0.4 requires Mac OS X 10.6.7 or later to install and run and can be snagged manually or via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

Apple releases iPhoto 9.1.5 update

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Date: Monday, July 11th, 2011, 09:54
Category: News, Software

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Apple on Monday released iPhoto 9.1.5, the latest version of its image organization and editing application. The update, a 108 megabyte download which can be be snagged via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature, offers the following major fixes and changes:

- The date range of each event now updates correctly to reflect changes made to photos using the Adjust Time and Date command.

- Addresses an issue that could cause the Photos view to scroll incorrectly when Event Titles are displayed.

- Fixes a problem that could prevent Ken Burns animations from being applied correctly on photos in a saved Classic slideshow.

- Deleting photos from a web album using the contextual menu now removes them from the album without deleting them from the library.

- Addresses an issue that could prevent a crop adjustment from being removed from a photo when using the Revert to Original command.

iPhoto 9.1.5 retails for US$49 as part of iLife ’11 and requires Mac OS X 10.6.6 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any changes, please let us know.

Analyst: App Store downloads to increase by 61%, prices to jump 14% in calendar year 2011

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Date: Monday, July 11th, 2011, 04:12
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod shuffle, iPod Touch, News

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If you remember your economics class, an old supply and demand chart should pop into your head.

Those charts are applicable.

Per AppleInsider, having recently hit the 15 billion download milestone, a new analysis has found that downloads from Apple’s iOS App Store will increase 61 percent in calendar year 2011, while the average selling price of software will be up 14 percent.

Analyst Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray published on Monday his latest App Store model, including average selling prices, for the official iOS digital download destination. The new numbers reflect Apple’s announcement from last week that more than 15 billion applications have been downloaded by more than 200 million iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users.

Munster estimates that the average iOS user will download 83 applications in calendar year 2011, up from 51 in calendar year 2010. That’s an increase of 61 percent year over year.

“We believe this trend points to the increasing importance of an app store with a broad selection of tested apps to drive device sales,” Munster wrote. “Smartphone users are showing an increasing appetite to use apps to add features to their phones, and iOS has the leading app ecosystem.”

Piper Jaffray’s App Store model also indicates that paid application average selling prices are on the rise in 2011. Munster said the data shows prices up 14 percent year-over-year in calendar year 2011, compared to the 18 percent decline seen by paid applications in 2010.

“After the initial race to the bottom in App Store pricing, we are seeing users pay up to add features and games to their iOS devices,” he said.

Using Apple’s announced figures, the App Store model suggests that 82 percent of applications on the iOS App Store are free, while 18 percent are paid. Those paid applications have an average selling price of US$1.44.

Munster attributed the increase in 2011 at least partially to more expensive iPad applications that are gaining share among App Store downloads. The average selling price of the top 10 iPad applications is US$6.32, up 36 percent from US$4.66 a year ago. Meanwhile, the top 50 iPhone applications have an average price of US$1.61.

The App Store model also shows that iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users are now downloading more than 32.3 million applications per day. That’s nearly triple the 11.9 million-per-day rate of tracks downloaded from Apple’s iTunes Music Store.

Apple does not profit greatly from its iOS App Store, and Piper Jaffray estimates that the company’s 30 percent share of all sales amounts to just 1 percent of its total revenue. More importantly for Apple, though, the App Store drives sales of iOS devices — something that Munster admitted is hard to quantify.

“Even though our qualitative analysis does not factor in the sale of additional devices, we believe the App Store drives device sales,” he said. “We see a virtuous cycle of Apple’s robust app ecosystem adding features and functionality to the iOS devices, which drives sales, which makes the ecosystem more robust, which encourages more developers to write apps, and the cycle repeats itself.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple Mini DisplayPort to HDMI cable faces legal questions from industry group

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Date: Monday, July 11th, 2011, 04:50
Category: Accessory, Legal

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Sometimes it’s the really useful stuff that gets picked on..

Per TechRadar, HDMI Org, the group that oversees HDMI specifications, has deemed Mini DisplayPort to HDMI cables outside of its standard and will not allow them to be sold.

The group explained that “the HDMI specification defines an HDMI cable as having only HDMI connectors on either end. Anything else is not a licensed use of the specification and therefore, not allowed.”

All licensed HDMI products must undergo compliance testing. Given the fact that the cable is undefined by the group, “it cannot be tested against the Specification,” thereby making it unofficial and
unlicensed.

This outcome is devastating for the numerous companies that make money from these cables, though there is one upside. Cables, or dongles, that have a DisplayPort on one end and an HDMI female receptacle on the other are licensed.

HDMI Org does, however, note that there are users who covet this type of cable system, stating that recognizes that there “may be a market need for a cable solution rather than a dongle solution. However, at this time, there is no way to produce these cable products in a licensed manner.” According to the report, hundreds of thousands of cables could be affected by a recall.

Apple reportedly developed a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter but never released it, relying instead upon third-party offerings .

First introduced in October 2008, the Mini DisplayPort connector is used by Apple in its latest Mac offerings. The standard was designed by Apple as a smaller form factor alternative to the DisplayPort standard. The Video Electronics Standard Association officially adopted the specification in 2009.

More recently, Apple and Intel have collaborated on Thunderbolt, a new high-speed I/O technology that makes use of the Mini DisplayPort connector. The first generation of Thunderbolt offers two channels of 10Gbps transfers in both directions, simultaneously, and 10 watts of power. Intel expects to scale the technology up to transfer rates of 100Gbps within a few years.

Late last month, Apple released the first Thunderbolt cable and added the first third-party Thunderbolt storage solutions to its online store. The cable was revealed to be an active cable with a transceiver chip at each end and “tons of little resistors.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to release next-gen MacBook Air, Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) by next week

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Date: Friday, July 8th, 2011, 03:46
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

With the middle of July almost upon us, the long-awaited arrival of Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) and a refreshed MacBook Air notebook are something we’re hankering for. Per CNET, a “few overseas sources” have stated that “Apple Retail stores are planning ‘overnights’ on July 13th.” Overnights typically entail a refresh of Apple store displays and training on new products.

The cool cats at AppleInsider have also heard similar chatter, citing a “bulletin” posted to Apple’s internal retail news network “advising store management to perform RAM upgrades to certain Mac models on the showroom floors by Sunday, July 10th at the latest.” The deduction: this is needed to ready those models for upgrades to Lion.

Apple is already on the record with statements about a July release. At its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June, the company announced that it would be releasing Lion as a US$29.99 update to users in July. The OS has already reached gold master status, according to reports.

Probably not coincidentally, the OS X Lion page on Apple’s site shows the new operating system running on the MacBook Air.

Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) will bring plenty of enhancements and tweaks, including iCloud services built into the software, iOS-style Launchpad to house apps, full-screen apps and previewing Preview PDFs full-screen, Mission Control that comes up with a three-finger swipe, automatic tracking of document version history, and a resume feature that picks up where the user left off, among other new features.

The new MacBook Air is expected to weigh only 2.3 pounds (for the 11.6-inch model) and is anticipated to feature a fast Intel Sandy Bridge Core i series processors for the first time and a Thunderbolt port–both features already present on its 13-inch MacBook Pro cousin.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.