Rumor: Apple negotiating with content providers, could launch streaming radio service this summer

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Date: Friday, April 5th, 2013, 07:50
Category: Rumor, Software

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There could be some nifty stuff coming down the pipe this summer.

Per CNET, Apple is working to strike deals with both the Warner and Universal Music groups within the week to help add content to its upcoming streaming radio service. Sony would still be one of the major holdouts.

Apple could sign deals with both Warner Music and Universal Music Group within the next week, according to the sources. Both sources cautioned that the deals have not yet been made and could still fall apart. In addition, Apple still needs to get Sony Music Group on board, as well as the music publishers. Even so, Apple has told the labels it’s determined to get all its deals signed in time for a summer rollout. In addition to the U.S., Apple is hoping to quickly unveil the service in up to a dozen territories, according to sources, including the U.K, France, Germany, Australia, and Japan.

While recent reports have pinned the service’s launch for late 2013, CNET said Apple still wants to have a summer launch take place.

The report indicated that Apple is working on functionality such as quick-button-based access to restart a song and new payment terms for record labels. It also alluded to the upcoming service being more Pandora-like than Rdio, suggesting true, radio-like randomization versus play-on-demand audio content.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple’s OS X 10.8.3 prompts use of discrete GPU in mid-2010 MacBook Pro notebooks

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Date: Thursday, April 4th, 2013, 08:42
Category: MacBook Pro, News, Software

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There’s sort of a love/hate relationship with operating system updates, especially given the fact that you never quite know what’s going to change with your Apple hardware and how it performs after the fact.

To that end, the mighty Topher Kessler has written a terrific piece over on CNET as to Apple’s latest OS update for its mid-2010 MacBook Pro notebooks.

To this end, a number of the notebook’s owners noticed that after upgrading to OS X 10.8.3, their systems with dual graphics cards would automatically switch to using the more powerful discrete graphics chip regularly, even when using non-graphics intensive applications like Google Chrome, Dropbox, and Growl. This does not result in crashes or other interruptions in workflow, but it does increase the drain on the systems’ battery and result in a shorter working time when not connected to AC power.

The article then moves on to discuss how to ration battery power, how to drop back to OS X 10.7 if necessary and the new challenges for developers under these conditions.

It’s there, it’s good, so take a gander and let us know if you’ve seen anything like this with your mid-2010 MacBook Pro on your end.

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

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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: iOS 7 to incorporate overhauled user interface, “flatter” look

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Date: Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013, 08:38
Category: iPhone, Rumor, Software

It’s time to start talking about iOS 7.

Per the mighty John Gruber of Daring Fireball, Senior Vice President of Industrial Design and new head of Human Interface Jony Ive has apparently made noticeable visual tweaks to Apple’s mobile platform. So much so, that “word on the street” has it that iOS engineers are required to put a polarizing filter over their iPhone displays to prevent onlookers from getting a glimpse of the new UI.

The rumor was revealed in a Branch discussion regarding the latest Apple talk, with a number of well-known bloggers airing out their thoughts on what the company has in store for 2013.

Other rumors have stated the new iOS will incorporate a “flatter” look, albeit time will tell what that actually means.

Gruber claims that iOS 7 development is “running behind,” prompting OS X 10.9 engineers to be pulled from their work to lend a hand in getting the mobile OS ready in time for launch.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

First “iSteve” parody trailer goes online

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Date: Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013, 07:34
Category: News

To everything, there’s a parody.

The first trailer for the “iSteve” parody has gone online, the movie will be released in theaters on April 15th and you guys can decide what you make of Justin Long as Apple co-founder Steve Jobs:

Apple seeds first OS X 10.8.4 beta to developer community

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Date: Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013, 06:54
Category: News, Software

That OS X 10.8.4 goodness you’re looking for…it just entered its first beta.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Monday began seeding the OS X 10.8.4 beta to developers, though not much is known about the new maintenance update as little information was offered in the release notes.

According to sources familiar with the release notes, build number 12E27 doesn’t show any changes in the areas on which developers should focus, suggesting the software contains bug fixes and small enhancements at this time.

Like the final OS X 10.8.3 betas, the first 10.8.4 seed asks testers to look at Wi-Fi, Graphics Drivers and Safari, while the seed comes with no known issues.

Interestingly, Apple said it is not offering the build as a software update through the Mac App Store, as it did with the 10.8.3 builds. This may change with future seeds, but the company didn’t elaborate further.

The new seed come a over two weeks after Apple released OS X 10.8.3 to the public with Safari 6.0.3 and enhanced iTunes integration. Along with the new feature set, 10.8.3 brought bug fixes and wider support for Windows 8 in Boot Camp.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to announce Q2 2013 earnings statement on April 23rd

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Date: Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013, 06:45
Category: Finance, News

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It’s about that time again.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Apple updated its investor relations page on Monday to reveal that the company will post its earnings results for Q2 2013 on Tuesday, April 23. Per usual, an earnings conference call will follow at 5 p.m ET. Typically, this is where CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer go over Apple’s earnings in further detail and answer an assortment of questions from analysts.

Naturally, all eyes will be on Apple and its perceived ability to maintain the tremendous growth it has enjoyed over the past few years.

Stay tuned for full coverage of the event throughout the day.

Leaked Blackberry product roadmap shows potential iPad competitor on the horizon

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Date: Monday, April 1st, 2013, 06:45
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

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You may not love and adore Blackberry, but it looks like the company intends to stick around long enough to release a tablet competitor to the iPad.

Per @BB10Leaks and TechnoBuffalo, Canadian manufacturer BlackBerry appears to be readying another go at the tablet sector, as an image purporting to be a leaked product roadmap shows a potential iPad competitor slated for a late 2013 release.

The supposed product roadmap appeared Friday in a tweet and appears to show BlackBerry’s forthcoming products through the second quarter of 2014. In addition to the already released Z10 and its hardware QWERTY keyboard sporting counterpart, the Q10, the roadmap shows a tablet, a phablet, and a phablet-esque device with a hardware QWERTY keyboard of its own.


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The iPad competitor appears to be named the B10. The roadmap gives no details on its dimensions or specifications, but it looks to be a large tablet in the vein of Google’s Nexus 10 and Apple’s full-size iPads. Should the device materialize, it would represent BlackBerry’s second attempt at breaking into the tablet segment.

The Canadian manufacturer previously released a 7-inch PlayBook tablet, meant to provide enterprise-minded customers with a more portable alternative to Apple’s iPad, which dominated the tablet segment then as it does now. Poor software implementation and developer support, though, doomed the PlayBook to sluggish sales even as Apple’s tablet moved to greater heights. Eventually, then-RIM’s inventory of unsold PlayBook units caused the company to take a US$485 million charge.

With the launch of BlackBerry 10, though, the manufacturer has seen encouraging signs. BlackBerry’s most recent financial figures revealed one million Z10’s shipped since the device’s launch in February. That, in combination with drastic cost reductions, led to BlackBerry’s first profitable quarter in some time.

A new tablet would help flesh out the range of devices BlackBerry offers, making it a more capable alternative for customers looking outside of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. Speaking earlier in March, BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins said that the company would have to do something “really substantial and meaningful… [and] profitable as well,” if it were to enter the tablet space again.

Should the leaked roadmap prove accurate, BlackBerry’s tablet will see release some time in either the third or fourth quarter of 2013. It would be followed shortly thereafter by a large-screened BlackBerry 10 device, apparently dubbed the U10. That device — likely a “phablet” in the vein of Samsung’s Galaxy Note II — may be the rumored Aristo device that surfaced late last year. Following the phablet’s release, another large-screened model would follow quickly thereafter, this one sporting a hardware QWERTY keyboard much like BlackBerry’s forthcoming Q10.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Final Cut Pro X 10.0.8 update

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Date: Friday, March 29th, 2013, 06:11
Category: News, Software

You can’t knock a good update.

Late Thursday, Apple released version 10.0.8 of its Final Cut Pro X video editing software.

The update, a 1.53 gigabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:
– Support for Sony XAVC codec up to 4K resolution.

– Option to display ProRes Log C files from ARRI ALEXA cameras with standard Rec. 709 color and contrast levels.

– Resolves an issue where some third-party effects generated green frames during render.

– Resolves performance issues that could occur with certain titles and effects.

– Time reversed clips render in the background.

– Ability to use key commands to adjust Clip Appearance settings in the timeline.

– Ability to view reel number metadata located in the timecode track of video files.

– Mono audio files in a surround project export with correct volume levels.

– Drop zones no longer reset to the first frame of video after application restart.

– Fixes a performance issue which resulted from selecting multiple ranges on a single clip.

– Fixes an issue where the Play Around function did not work properly on certain clips when viewed through external video devices.

Final Cut Pro X 10.0.8 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later to install and run along with an OpenCL-capable graphics card or Intel HD Graphics 3000 or later, 256MB of VRAM, display with 1280-by-768 resolution or higher and retails for US$299.99

If you’ve tried version 10.0.8 of Final Cut Pro X and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

BlackBerry posts $98 million quarterly profit, sells 1 million Z10 smartphones

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Date: Thursday, March 28th, 2013, 06:36
Category: Finance, News

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Maybe there’s some life left in the old girl…

Per AppleInsider, BlackBerry on Thursday said demand for its new flagship Z10 handset helped produce a net income of US$98 million — a minor surprise during a transitional quarter for the previously spiraling company.

While the Canadian smartphone maker, formerly known as Research in Motion, surprised by posting a profit, its quarterly revenue of US$2.7 billion was still seen as a disappointment. In addition, the company only sold 6 million total smartphones, while a million of those were its new Z10.

A poll of Wall Street analysts by Thomson Reuters had forecast BlackBerry to post a loss of about 29 cents per share. In the same quarter a year ago, the company had lost US$118 million.

Still, the Z10 sales were a relatively positive sign for the company’s revamped BlackBerry 10 platform. That device launched a few weeks before the end of the quarter, and only in Canada, the U.K. and United Arab Emirates. It began expanding to the U.S. last week.

While BlackBerry was once a dominant player in the smartphone market, major shifts in recent years have made it a fringe competitor. For example, Apple sold nearly eight times as many iPhones last quarter as BlackBerry sold smartphones in its latest print, demonstrating the gap between the two companies.

As of the end of the company’s fourth fiscal quarter of 2013, which concluded on March 2, BlackBerry had about US$2.9 billion in cash, cash equivalents, short-term and long-term investments.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.