Apple inks deal with Sony for upcoming iTunes/cloud service

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Date: Friday, May 20th, 2011, 04:08
Category: News

It’s when Apple starts coming to licensing terms with large music conglomerates that this whole cloud thing becomes interesting…

Per Bloomberg, Apple has reportedly inked a licensing deal with Sony Corp.’s music division to begin offering the label’s catalog in the cloud, leaving Universal Music Group as the last holdout among the major record labels.

Bloomberg reports that Apple has reached licensing accords with Sony Corp., EMI Group, and Warner Music Group to allow users to access song collections from mobile devices via the Internet. Prior reports had noted that EMI and Warner were on board with Apple’s plan for a cloud-based service.

Though Universal Music Group, the largest recording company, has yet to agree to a deal, Apple and the label are close to reaching an agreement, according to one person with knowledge of the deals. After signing licensing agreements with the labels, Apple would also need to renegotiate agreements with music publishers, which control different rights than the labels, the report noted.

Sources said plans for the new service could be previewed as early as next month at Apple’s sold-out Worldwide Developer Conference. According to a report last month, Apple has finished work on the service, which is being held up by pending music label and publisher agreements.

Sources have stated that Apple’s rumored cloud music service won’t require users to upload online collections, giving the company a significant advantage over rivals Google and Amazon. Amazon launched its Cloud Drive and Cloud Player services in March, and Google launched a Music Beta cloud service last week.

Although Google and Amazon beat Apple to market with their cloud music services, music industry sources have expressed the belief that Apple’s take on cloud music will be vastly superior. Both Google and Amazon reportedly chose not to secure music label support before launching their services.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases second beta build of Mac OS X 10.6.8 to developer community

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Date: Friday, May 20th, 2011, 04:51
Category: Rumor, Software

Apple on Thursday issued the second beta build of Mac OS X 10.6.8 to developers with no known issues.

Per AppleInsider, both the Combo Update and the Delta Update for Mac OS X 10.6.8 build 10K524 are a 1GB download. According to sources close to the story, focus areas for the build include Airport, Graphics Drivers, Mac App Store, Networking, QuickTime and VPN.

The first build of Mac OS X 10.6.8, identified as 10K521, arrived a week ago with no details on changes.

The most recent update to Snow Leopard came in March in the form of Mac OS X 10.6.7, which included display fixes for Apple’s early 2011 Thunderbolt MacBook Pros. Other adjustments included changes designed to improve the reliability of Back to My Mac, resolve issues when transferring files to SMB Windows Files Sharing servers, and address Mac App Store bugs.

Apple is expected to release a major upgrade to Mac OS X this summer with Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”). The company is expected to “unveil the future of Mac OS” at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference from June 6 through June 10 in San Francisco.

Mac OS X 10.7 is expected popular features in iOS, such as full screen apps and auto save, and brings them back to the Mac.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple secures EMI licensing deal for upcoming cloud service

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Date: Thursday, May 19th, 2011, 04:08
Category: iTunes, Rumor

You’ve been eagerly anticipating the Apple Cloud.

And they might be one step closer to releasing it.

Per CNET, music industry sources claim that Apple has signed a cloud-music licensing agreement with music label EMI and is “very near” to completing deals with Universal and Sony.

Apple appears to be putting the final pieces in place for the long-rumored cloud-based iTunes music service. The article states that Apple’s negotiations with Sony Music Group and Universal could wrap up as early as next week, according to music industry sources.

Last month, it was reported that Apple and Warner Music Group had reached an agreement for an unannounced iTunes cloud service. A separate report suggested last month that Apple had already procured deals from at least two of the four major music labels.

Finalizing licensing deals appears to be the final step for Apple, as a recent report suggested that Apple had completed work on a cloud-based iTunes music streaming service. Sources close to the story have said that Apple’s cloud solution is expected to be vastly superior to competing services from Google and Amazon.

Both Google and Amazon decided to launch their “digital locker” music services without renegotiating licenses with the labels. As such, Google’s service is unable to sell music and Amazon faces a potential backlash from rights holders.

Mounting evidence suggests that Apple will use the name ‘iCloud’ for the new service, though it’s been rumored that iCloud will be more than just music. Sources said the new service will also serve as a revamp of the company’s existing MobileMe service, allowing storage of contacts, calendars, photos and video.

According to one report, Apple purchased the iCloud.com domain for an estimated US$4.5 million from the Swedish company Xcerion.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases ProKit 7.0 update for professional applications

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Date: Wednesday, May 18th, 2011, 06:07
Category: News, Software

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On Tuesday, Apple addressed its higher end applications, the company releasing its ProKit 7.0 patch to fix issues found within Final Cut Pro, Motion, Soundtrack Pro, DVD Studio Pro, iPhoto, Aperture, Final Cut Express, Logic Pro, MainStage, Logic Express, and iAd Producer.

Per Macworld, the update, a 15.7 megabyte downlad update claims to fix a number of minor issues found within all the aforementioned aps, in addition to a few specific patches for Final Cut Pro, Motion, Soundtrack Pro, and Logic. All applications will find improved support for PopOver style tooltips and Font Smoothing and any unwanted gaps between menus and submenus have also supposedly been eliminated.

Final Cut Pro and Motion will see improvements to the stability of both the color picker and timecode interface; memory leaks in both applications have also been fixed, and Motion alone has received a patch for AppKit-related crashes. Soundtrack Pro will boast improved compatibility when importing project assets from older versions of the program, and an appearance issue with the scrubber has been addressed in both Logic Express and Logic Pro.

Apple recommends the update for all of the above applications on any system running Mac OS X 10.6.6 or later.

As always, the update can be snagged and installed by running Software Update on your Mac.

Rumor: Thunderbolt, Sandy Bridge-Equipped MacBook Air notebooks to surface in June/July

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Date: Wednesday, May 18th, 2011, 03:01
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

The line of Thunderbolt and Sandy Bridge-equipped Mac notebooks looks likely to complete with the MacBook Air come June or July.

Per an article in DigiTimes, sources from makers in the MacBook Air supply chain will begin shipping 11.6″ and 13.3″ MacBook Air models “in late May.”

“Main supply chain makers for the new models remain about the same as for the existing MacBook Air, with Quanta Computer solely responsible for assembly, Catcher Technology supplying casings, Auras Technology a main supplier of thermal modules, Shin Zu Shing supplying hinges, and Simplo Technology and Dynapack supplying batteries,” the report noted the sources as saying.

Given the expected high volume of initial shipments of Apple’s thin-and-light notebook and the relatively higher prices of Apple’s components, Taiwan-based makers “rest the hope on Apple orders for revenue contributions,” according to the report.

DigiTimes’ sources corroborate a previous report that pegged MacBook Air shipments as going to mass production in late May. According to Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, checks with Asian suppliers and system builders revealed that, after declining sequentially after the release of new MacBook Pros, MacBook Air shipments are expected to rebound in the June quarter ahead of a refresh.

In February, it had been claimed Apple would transition the MacBook Air to Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors in June.

Apple’s first Macs to feature the Sandy Bridge architecture were the early 2011 MacBook Pros released in late February. The new MacBook Pros also saw the first implementation of the new high-speed Thunderbolt port. Earlier this month, the Cupertino, Calif., Mac maker unveiled new iMac all-in-one desktops with quad-core Sandy Bridge processors and Thunderbolt.

According to one analyst, supply chain sources indicate that Apple intends to refresh the rest of its Mac lineup “in upcoming months,” though further details were unavailable.

Stay tuned for additional information as it becomes available.

Apple releases Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 3.7, adds support for new camera formats

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Date: Wednesday, May 18th, 2011, 02:01
Category: News, Software

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Late Wednesday, Apple posted its Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 3.7, an update designed to extend RAW image compatibility for the Aperture 3 and iPhoto ’09 applications.

The update, a 6.62 megabyte download, adds support for the following cameras:

- Canon EOS Rebel T3 / 1100D / Kiss X50

- Canon EOS Rebel T3i / 600D / Kiss X5

- Olympus E-5

- Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100

- Pentax K-r

- Pentax K-5

The update requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run and is also available via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the new Digital Camera update and noticed any changes, please let us know how it went.

Apple sets gears in motion for possible 10th anniversary retail event

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Date: Tuesday, May 17th, 2011, 07:06
Category: News, retail

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I’m not sure what you’re supposed to give your significant other for your 10th anniversary or what Apple is supposed to offer its customer base for the 10th anniversary of its retail stores, but we’ll find out soon.

Per Boy Genius Report, Apple has made a number of retail store plans for this weekend, suggesting the company may be planning a special event to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its retail stores. The article, citing an unnamed but “solid” Apple source, claims that Apple has scheduled an overnight shift for 10-15 individuals at each Apple Store, with employees expected to work from late Saturday through mid-Sunday.

During the overnight shift, employees will be required to lock their cell phones in the main office, and sign an Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) with Apple. Per the report, the overnight shift will include all visuals staff, a manager, a business team manager, some Genius team members, a back-of-house employee, and a few Apple specialists.

The report goes on to claim that stores have already received hardware to install, which is to be under lock and key until after close on Saturday night, and are expecting more to arrive Friday or Saturday. Employees have reportedly already downloaded gigabytes of data from Apple corporate labeled “training” in a password-protected folder that isn’t accessible until Saturday afternoon, and will be hanging black curtains in store windows to prevent onlookers from peeking inside; finally, all Apple Stores will reportedly have mandatory meetings on Sunday, May 22, with most meetings scheduled for the morning.

Notably, the 10th anniversary of the opening of Apple’s first retail stores in Tysons Corner, VA and Glendale, CA falls on this Thursday, May 19, meaning that any event, promotion, or product introduction related to the retail meetings would seemingly come well after the anniversary itself.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple begins to drop hints of iPhone on Sprint network

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Date: Tuesday, May 17th, 2011, 05:50
Category: iPhone, News

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It’s the job postings that sometimes show you what’s on the horizon.

Per Stop It, AT&T, An Apple job listing for a “carrier engineer” located near the Sprint headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, may point to the company’s plans to add support for the carrier in an upcoming iPhone.

Last week, an analyst claimed that Apple will release an iPhone “4S” in September with minor changes and support for T-Mobile and Sprint. That assertion appeared to gain credibility on Monday when it was discovered that Apple had posted a job listing for a carrier engineer to be located in the Kansas City area, roughly 20 miles from Sprint’s headquarters in Overland Park, Kansas.

Following up on the story, Apple appears to have changed the job’s location back to its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters since the original post was published.

According to the listing, the carrier engineer team is “responsible for day-to-day technical interactions with the one or more carriers to track down issues reported by the carrier.” The position also involves assisting the carrier with testing and “working with program management, software development and test teams to get products approved by the carriers.”

The job requires a technical understanding and experience with GSM/GPRS, Edge, CDMA and UMTS. Sprint currently operates the country’s second largest CDMA network.

After Apple ended its exclusive deal with AT&T and announced plans to release a CDMA-capable iPhone on the Verizon network, analysts speculated that Sprint would soon receive the CDMA iPhone. Apple revealed in January that its deal with Verizon for the CDMA iPhone is “non-exclusive.”

Sprint has yet to offer any indication that it plans to begin offering the iPhone. In January, CEO Dan Hesse offered no comment when asked about a possible deal with Apple.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available

VirtualBox updated to 4.0.8

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Date: Tuesday, May 17th, 2011, 04:43
Category: News, Software

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VirtualBox, an open source x86 virtualization project available for free has just hit version 4.0.8. The new version, a 82.9 megabyte download, sports a list of fixes and changes that can be found here.

VirtualBox 4.0.8 is available for free and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

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

Apple looking less likely to include near-field communications in iPhone 5

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Date: Monday, May 16th, 2011, 10:02
Category: iPhone, Rumor

In the apparently never-ending speculation regarding the appearance of near-field communications in the upcoming iPhone 5, the current consensus is leaning towards “no”.

According to Business Insider, Wall Street research firm Bernstein issued a note to investors on Monday in which it claimed the next iPhone won’t include an NFC chip, according to Business Insider. That would run contrary to previous rumors that Apple was planning to include such a chip in its next iPhone.

Numerous reports from various sources had suggested that Apple planned to include NFC chips for e-wallet functionality in its next iPhone. Wireless short-range technology like RFID can allow for secure transmission of data, and could turn a user’s smartphone into a credit card.

In March, it was also reported that Apple was planning e-wallet functionality for a “coming” iPhone. However, the newspaper could not confirm whether the functionality would appear in Apple’s fifth-generation iPhone.

Apple has shown a great deal of interest in RFID over the years, with numerous patent filings, job listings, and even public comments from mobile executives. Reports of iPhone prototypes with RFID functionality date back to 2009.

If true, Monday’s report could mean that users would have to wait until at least the sixth-generation iPhone, likely to arrive in 2012, before such functionality would become available. That would jibe with other rumors that the next iPhone will not feature any significant changes to its hardware.

It would also support a claim out of the U.K. made in March that said RFID functionality had been scrapped. The Independent cited sources at mobile operators who said that Apple plans to include NFC technology in the sixth-generation iPhone in 2012.

Last week, a separate analyst report claimed that the biggest feature of Apple’s fifth-generation handset, given the moniker “iPhone 4S,” will be support for both Sprint and T-Mobile networks in the U.S. It is also expected to feature better cameras and the dual-core A5 processor found in the iPad 2.

Over the weekend, a separate part and case claimed to be for the fifth-generation iPhone suggested that the camera flash on the rear of the device will be placed farther from the lens. This would allow for better pictures when taken in low lighting.

Apple’s next iPhone is widely expected to miss the traditional summer launch timeframe when previous devices have been introduced. Instead, it is believed that the next iPhone will arrive at some point in Apple’s 2012 fiscal year, which begins in late September.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.