Apple to officially end MobileMe sync for certain features in iCloud transition

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Date: Monday, August 8th, 2011, 03:52
Category: News, Software

Apple’s transition to the iCloud is coming and it won’t always be easy…

Per AppleInsider, while many of the features of MobileMe are simply being upgraded in the move to iCloud, Apple has previously noted that Gallery, iDisk and iWeb are on the chopping block. Now, the company has further made it clear that data sync features will also be canceled in its iCloud transition steps.

A key feature of .Mac and later MobileMe was the cloud integration of iSync, Apple’s Mac-centric tool for keeping data in sync among a variety of devices as part of its “digital hub strategy” first unveiled a decade ago. The data sync of .Mac and subsequently MobileMe moved the “truth database” from the user’s Mac into the cloud, making it possible to sync additional types of data between Macs.

MobileMe currently allows a user to sync a variety of settings between Macs, including the layout of Dashboard widgets, Dock items, passwords and credentials saved in the Keychain, email account information including Mail Rules, Signatures and Smart Mailboxes, and System Preferences.

However, all of these features will terminate as soon as a user migrates from MobileMe to the new iCloud, according to Apple’s transition pages at me.com/move.

Other MobileMe features that are not being carried forward into iCloud include Gallery media hosting, iDisk cloud storage and its integrated iWeb web hosting, will be continued for exiting MobileMe subscribers until June 30 of 2012, even after migrating other data to iCloud. These features are easy to maintain independently from iCloud, because there is no direct equivalent in iCloud.

Gallery media hosting is being dramatically reworked as a Photo Stream feature, a push updating feature that presents a user’s photos on the mobile devices, Mac photo albums, and on Apple TV rather than via a web site. Similarly, iDisk is making way for an entirely new type of document and data updating that focuses on a users’ own hardware rather than web-centric hosting.

The iCloud migration process is currently only open to developers, as it requires users to have iOS 5 beta 5 on their mobile devices, Mac OS X Lion 10.7.2 with the iCloud for Os X Lion beta 6 package on their Macs, and the iCloud Control Panel for Windows beta 4 running on any PCs they use.

Apple notes that while Mail, Contacts and Calendars can be migrated from MobileMe to iCloud, shared calendars may be affected in the move, while Bookmarks will simply be imported from a client system. This indicates the reduction in data supported in the transition to iCloud may largely be explained by Apple’s hopes to keep the migration as simple and problem-free as possible, avoiding the issues users had in the move from .Mac to MobileMe.

Another reason for the shift in features between MobileMe and iCloud may be explained by the underlying security changes that differentiate the wide open iDisk from the carefully sandboxed design of iCloud’s Documents & Data.

Currently, data synced to MobileMe by Mac OS X Sync Services is copied into openly accessible folders. It is likely Apple hopes to completely secure all iCloud data to avoid any embarrassing lapses and contain sensitive data from potential malware attacks. Individual apps, such as Keychain Access, Launchpad and System Preferences, may be modified in the future to take advantage of iCloud’s key value data store, duplicating the old MobileMe features in a more secure fashion.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple could be launching iTunes streaming service in near term

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Date: Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011, 11:11
Category: Rumor, Software

blueituneslogo.jpg

A few days ago, Apple enabled the ability for users to re-download purchased TV shows, as well as stream them to the Apple TV. Per AppAdvice, this move could be presented as evidence for Apple’s plans to launch a new re-downloading and streaming service dubbed iTunes Replay.

Since users already have the ability to re-download past music and video purchases, this seems like an inevitable next step for Apple. Such a feature would give users access to movies, music and television shows they purchased as far back as January 1, 2009, as well as streaming abilities for the Apple TV and any iOS devices. According to AppAdvice, the alias “iTunes Replay” will stick and that it’s currently being used internally.

The new service could be released within the next few weeks to purposefully distinguish its functionality from that of Apple’s upcoming iCloud service, which has just recently become available as a beta to app developers. If iTunes Replay indeed becomes a reality, it could help negate the need for third-party services like Spotify and Netflix.

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.

Facebook announces Skype video chat integration, other changes to social networking site

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Date: Wednesday, July 6th, 2011, 10:11
Category: News, Software

If there’s a major tech news story of the day, this might be it.

Per Electronista, Facebook at its special event Wednesday brought out Skype-based video chat. The approach lets Facebook members hold one-to-one video calls between each other without having to load a separate app; complete newcomers should be talking in 30 seconds, Facebook says. The platform should also work tightly with an updated desktop app and, eventually, mobile versions.

Skype 5.3 on Windows already lets users bring in a Facebook news feed, post status updates, and make calls directly to Facebook users from Skype. A 5.5 beta release also builds in Facebook chat with live status as an option. Mac versions are expected to come in the future.

Text chat got its own update at the event. Ad-hoc group chats are now possible and don’t need users to jump into a group chat. Regular chat also has a new, simplified design that adapts to the browser size and rolls in a sidebar that allows almost immediate text chat. The reworking is also intended to accommodate “future announcements,” Facebook hinted.

Facebook was shy on whether its own mobile apps would get video chat or whether group video chat was coming. The social network and Skype did cast the video chat as a starting point and hinted groups might come along in the future.

No mention has been made of Facebook’s native iPad app. Some had anticipated it coming with the Facebook event, but it’s now seen as more likely coming in the next several weeks. In the nearer future, Facebook is also expected to show Project Spartan and bring HTML5-native, Flash-free games to iOS and Android devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iTunes in the Cloud services allows for re-downloading of removed App Store programs

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Date: Friday, June 10th, 2011, 06:28
Category: iOS, News, Software

Ok, this is weird but interesting.

Per CDFXapps.com, with the new iTunes in the Cloud service, users can re-download all applications that were once purchased, including software that is no longer publicly available on the App Store.

Apparently, software that may have been removed from the App Store because of a variety of reasons can be accessed once again with the newly launched iTunes in the Cloud beta. The software can be found in the “Purchased” section of the “Updates” tab in the App Store.

For example, “Tris,” a Tetris clone that was removed from the App Store years ago, can once again be downloaded. The only requirement is that a user has ownership of the software connected to their iTunes account.

Another application that emulated a DOS prompt on iOS devices, dubbed “iDOS,” can also be once again be accessed, for those who once had the software installed on their device. “iDOS” was removed from the App Store after it was discovered traditional executable files could be loaded into the application and launched in the emulator.

The iTunes in the Cloud beta, the very first feature to be released of Apple’s newly announced iCloud, debuted on Monday. The “Purchased” section of the iOS App store offers a thorough list of all software that has been purchased on the authorized Apple ID signed in on the device.

Even if software is removed from the App Store, users are allowed to continue to run the application on their iOS device. But sometimes applications may be deleted without being backed up to a local computer through iTunes.

The fact that software no longer available in the App Store is stored through iTunes in the Cloud suggests that Apple’s backup functionality in iCloud will be very thorough. When introducing iCloud on Monday, the company touted its new half-billion-dollar server farm in North Carolina and how it would be the backbone for Apple’s new far-reaching service.

In a recent WWDC keynote, Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs admitted that the company’s previous MobileMe service was not its “finest hour.” But he also presented iCloud as a new product that would “just work” as promised, without any thought necessary from users.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.6.8 builds to developer community

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Date: Monday, May 16th, 2011, 04:03
Category: News, Software

snowleopard

There may not be a ton of details about it, but it’s on its way.

Per MacRumors, Apple has released a new build of Snow Leopard to developers, the first since 10.6.7 in March, and potentially the last before the delivery of Mac OS X Lion this summer.

The new build, identified as 10K521, reportedly comes without any detail of changes.

That update was delivered in two flavors, one specifically for Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Pros identified as build 10J3250, and a general release for other models 10J869.

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion is anticipated to be released at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference during the first week of June.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google launches cloud-based music service, demos upcoming version of Android

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Date: Wednesday, May 11th, 2011, 03:48
Category: News

Google launched the invite-only beta of its new cloud music streaming service Tuesday, along with Android movie rentals, and Honeycomb 3.1 for tablets. It also previewed Ice Cream Sandwich, the next major Android release, and promised that devices will receive future Android updates for 18 months after they launch, through a new agreement with carriers and device makers.

Per AppleInsider, the company launched its new Music service, a streaming product that will remain free while in beta. Initially, the service is only available to those who are given an invite.

The license-free cloud product allows users to upload their library of music to Google’s servers, and stream those tracks to Android devices and computers, on both Windows and Mac. The Music Beta software allows users to upload all of the music within their iTunes library and access it on the go.

The search giant unveiled the new product as part of its I/O 2011 conference on Tuesday. It boasted that the music service, when synced to the cloud, means users will never have to sync with a cable again.

Music Beta by Google also lets users “pin” their music for offline use, allowing content to be accessed when a data connection may not be available. Music Beta can be used on Android devices running Froyo or Gingerbread.

Google also unveiled movie rentals for Android devices, with thousands of movies available to rent for US$1.99 A new movies application for Android tablets like the Motorola Xoom allows users to watch movies on the go as well.

Like with music, users can “pin” their movie and download it, even if it’s rented and streaming, for playback when a data connection may not be available, such as on a plane ride.

Movies are now available on the Android market, and the official Movies application is available as part of today’s Honeycomb 3.1 release, while smartphone users with Android 2.2 will receive the application in the next few weeks.

Google also announced that an update for Honeycomb, its tablet-centric mobile operating system, is available today for Verizon customers. Those who own a Motorola Xoom will be able to update to Android 3.1.

The new update adds the ability to make Android devices act as USB hosts. In one example, they showed an Xbox 360 wired controller being used with an Android tablet via USB.

With the update, users can also stretch widgets horizontally or vertically to make them fit their needs.

Android 3.1 will also come to Google TV this summer, and bring the Android Market with applications. Google also revealed that there are now more than 200,000 applications available on the Android Market.

Google’s philosophy with the next major release of Android, dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich, will be “one OS everywhere,” across a range of devices. That would mean that Android phones and tablets would be running the same operating system, unlike the current landscape where Honeycomb is restricted only to tablets.

Google said it would have an “advanced app framework” in the next release of Android, allowing developers to scale their software to different platforms. They also boasted that their mobile operating system will “all be open source.”

Ice Cream Sandwich is also said to include a new user interface, new widgets, and new applications. It said the next user interface would be “state of the art.”

In one demonstration, Google showed off 3D headtracking on a Motorola Xoom using the hardware’s forward facing camera.

Google also vowed to streamline the updating process for Android devices. Carriers and device makers have agreed to provide new updates for 18 months after devices are launched, provided the hardware can support the newer versions of Android.

The company also showed off a new standard called Android Open Accessory. Using this, external can be connected to Android handsets and be supported by third-party software.

The search giant provided a demonstration of Android Open Accessory by connecting an Android phone to a stationary bike. It also demonstrated home automation integration called Android @ Home, with Android-compatible lightbulbs from Lighting Science set to go on sale by the end of the year.

If you’ve received an invitation to Google’s new music service and had a chance to play with it, please let us know.

Rumor: Apple to release Mac OS X 10.7 via Mac App Store

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Date: Thursday, May 5th, 2011, 02:35
Category: Rumor, Software

You know, I was getting used to hoofing it into the Apple Store, giving them a reasonable $29 and walking out with a Mac OS X 10.6 DVD…

It seemed like a good way to live.

Per AppleInsider, Apple will make the switch to a new kind of digital distribution for its upcoming Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) operating system upgrades by releasing the software first through its new Mac App Store.

The Mac App Store, available to all users running the most recent version of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, will become the de facto method for obtaining the Lion upgrade, sources familiar with the matter have revealed. Users will be able to upgrade instantly without the need for physical media by purchasing Lion through the Mac App Store.

While the Mac App Store will be the preferred method for installing Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, set for release this summer, it’s logical to presume that Apple will also offer an optical disc for people who may not have broadband. At least one person with knowledge of the situation claims that this will indeed be the case “for those with slower connections, or [for those who for whatever reason do] not want to download it.”

Apple will likely reveal its distribution plans for Lion at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Calif., set to take place June 6 through 10. Apple has promised that this year’s conference will showcase the “future” of the Mac operating system, and will be an event developers will not want to miss.

Evidence that Lion will be available in the Mac App Store can already be found in the pre-release builds Apple has issued to developers. Betas are downloaded from the Mac App Store by entering a redemption code provided by Apple.

Utilizing the App Store will allow owners of the new disc-drive-less MacBook Air to easily install the latest version of Mac OS X without the need for a physical disc. Apple ships its redesigned MacBook Air with a Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard reinstaller on a USB thumb drive, rather than a DVD.

Making the App Store a central component of the Mac experience will also allow Apple to remove disc drives from future hardware as the company looks toward a future of computing without the need for physical media. Removal of SuperDrives from devices like the MacBook Pro is expected to take place over the next 12-18 months, paving the way for even thinner designs with more internal space for a larger battery.

Apple has even moved to limit shelf space for software in its retail stores, allowing greater room for more profitable hardware to be sold. In February, it was rumored that the company actually plans to cease the sale of all boxed software at its retail locations.

The App Store has even been highlighted by Apple as a defining feature of Lion, which is due to be released this summer. But rather than wait for the release of Lion, Apple opted to bring the Mac App Store to Snow Leopard users in January.

Hardware requirements for the Mac App Store are the same as those for Snow Leopard, including an Intel-based processor, 1GB of system RAM, and 5GB of available disk space. But those with Apple’s earliest Intel-based machines will not be able to run Lion, as it has a minimum requirement of a Core 2 Duo processor.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases fifth Mac OS X 10.6.7 beta to developer community, directs focus to Safari

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Date: Friday, February 18th, 2011, 05:08
Category: News, Software

snowleopard

This week, Apple issued the fifth beta of Mac OS X 10.6.7 on Thursday, directing developers to focus on Safari.

Per AppleInsider, build 10J858 was released as a 1008.8MB combo update and a 434.4MB delta update. According to people familiar with the beta, the update was released with no known issues as usual, though the Safari web browser has been added to the list of Focus Areas.

In addition to Safari, Apple has asked developers to look into the Mac App Store, Airport, Bonjour, SMB and Graphics Drivers.

Apple seeded the first beta of Mac OS X 10.6.7 on Jan. 20, just weeks after releasing Mac OS X 10.6.6 and the Mac App Store. The most recent build came a week ago on Feb. 10.

Mac OS X 10.6.7 is expected to have only minor fixes and few new features, as Apple plans to release a major operating system upgrade, Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, this summer. Lion will incorporate features such as a home screen and full-screen applications from the Apple’s iOS back to the Mac.

If you’ve gotten your mitts on the new beta or have any feedback, please let us know in the comments.

Gaming references reported in iOS 4.3 beta code strings, could point towards expanded role for Apple TV

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Date: Thursday, February 10th, 2011, 06:44
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

It’s the inadvertent hints that make technology interesting.

Per Engadget, references to gaming and a possible controller for the Apple TV have been discovered in the iOS 4.3 beta code, suggesting that Apple could be planning to take on traditional gaming consoles over control of the TV.

Prior to Apple’s announcement of the new US$99 streaming Apple TV, rumors swirled that the device, which runs a variant of iOS, could gain support for third-party iOS apps in the next revision. Those rumors failed to materialize, but a new report claims to have found evidence of future gaming features for the Apple TV in an iOS 4.3 beta.

The article reports that a tipster has notified them of references to online gaming support in a recent iOS 4.3 beta. “Several references have been found pertaining to “ATVGames” and “ATVThunder” that point to a controller of some sort, leaderboards (think Game Center), a way to schedule games (multiplayer?), and a store front (think App Store, iTunes),” the report noted.

Two strings, “com.apple.appletv.play.live.thunder” and “.play.archive.thunder,” may point to the possibility of streaming games to the Apple TV or archiving them for offline play. The report’s source speculated that “the OpenGL is mature and thoroughly implemented enough that streaming low bandwidth data and computing locally could happen,” though the report was quick to disclaim that there’s nothing in the code to suggest that will be the case.

Two more codenames, Sedona and Flagstaff, named after cities in Arizona, were also discovered in the beta. With references to director, episode and season, Sedona may be a new “video merchandising and streaming” feature, according to the report. The Flagstaff code references “Account Types and Merchants,” but otherwise remains a mystery.

The popularity of games on iOS has contributed to the runaway success of the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, while also putting handheld gaming device makers like Sony and Nintendo on the defensive. Apple CEO Steve Jobs boasted in September last year that the iPod touch had become the “world’s most popular game player.”

Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime told reporters last year that Apple is a bigger threat than Xbox maker and rival Microsoft. Sony and Google will team up against Apple in a new PlayStation Suite for Android platform that will bring PlayStation games to Google’s mobile OS.

According to a December 2010 report by Interpret, Apple’s iOS devices are displacing standalone gaming devices, as the proportion of games played on the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP have declined 13% over the last year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.