WebKit adds support for Retina-quality images, changes to be made to HTML5

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Date: Thursday, August 15th, 2013, 06:36
Category: iPad, iPhone, MacBook Pro, News, Software

The images on the Web are about to get snazzier looking.

Per webkit.org, WebKit, the Apple-supported open source project behind Safari, is the first browser layout engine to support a new Web standard that makes it easier for developers to take advantage of high-resolution displays, like the Retina panels found in the iPhone, iPad and MacBook Pro.

The new standard, an addition to the HTML5 specification called “srcset,” provides developers with an easy way to serve users different image versions based on the resolution of their device. For example, a website may serve larger, higher quality images to visitors browsing on a Retina MacBook Pro while sending smaller, lower quality images to visitors on a MacBook Air.

Websites and Web-based applications have been slow to provide support for Retina displays since the screens first appeared on the iPhone 4 in 2010. Current methods for implementation are suboptimal – they can be cumbersome for developers, degrade the user experience, or lack cross-browser support.

Using srcset, developers can specify multiple variations of an image with a single declaration, and it is designed for compatibility with older systems. Browsers that do not support srcset will simply ignore it without any adverse affect on the user.

The syntax is similar to Apple’s iOS conventions for Retina-ready graphics: developers simply provide an alternate filename and a resolution multiplier, e.g. 1x, 2x, or 4x. The “resolution multiplier” is a measure of how many physical pixels make up one display pixel; for example, the iPhone 5 has a physical resolution of 1,136-by-640 pixels, but a display resolution of 568-by-320 pixels. This means there are 4 physical pixels for each display pixel, or a 4x multiplier.

The World Wide Web Consortium, or W3C, the international organization that defines and administers the open standards that underpin the Web, added srcset to the HTML5 specification in May 2012.

A similar feature, called “-webkit-image-set,” was added to WebKit and shipped with Safari 6 and Google’s Chrome 21 in October of the same year. The asset never achieved widespread adoption, however, as it was not implemented in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Mozilla’s Firefox, which together commanded more than 50% of the international browser market at the time.

WebKit is the first browser engine to announce support for srcset, and the feature is likely to ship in Safari 7 with OS X Mavericks.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google Play Books for iOS updated to 1.6.0, adds textbook rental support

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Date: Friday, August 9th, 2013, 06:16
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software


This is kind of nifty.

Per AppleInsider,

Google on Thursday updated its iBooks-like Google Play Books port, bringing in-app rentals, highlighting and note taking for scanned books, as well as other features to the iOS title.

Now at version 1.6.0, Google Play Books for iOS now supports in-app rentals, which allows users to access select books from the service’s “millions of titles” on their iPhone, iPad or iPod.

In addition to existing rental titles, users can choose from Google Play’s newly introduced digital textbook library. According to Google’s website, students can save up to 80 percent off the cost of physical textbooks by renting through its service.

With the new service, users can highlight, make notes and, in some cases, copy text from textbooks during the rental period. A quick look at the Google Play store shows a number of titles are already available.

Aside from textbooks the latest version of Google Play Books allows users to mark up books compiled from scanned pages. A new sepia reading mode and stability improvements round out the update’s changes.

Google Play Books comes in at 16.6MB, can be downloaded for free via the App Store and requires iOS 5.0 or later to install and run.

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

Google Earth updated to

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Date: Friday, August 9th, 2013, 06:54
Category: News, Software


On Friday, software giant Google released version of its popular Google Earth program. The new version, a 45 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– The “Enable Controller” option is now default on. If you have an uncalibrated external controller (such as a gaming joystick) connected to your computer, this could result in the Earth spinning with arrows displaying to signify movement. As a workaround, we suggest the following:

– Turning off “Enable Controller” in the “Navigation” tab of Options/Preferences

– Unplugging your external controller, or

– Recalibrating your external controller.

Google Earth requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, let us know in the comments.

Netflix to add multi-user profiles to subscriber accounts

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Date: Thursday, August 1st, 2013, 06:40
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software


This may cut down on some potential arguments in the future.

Per AppleInsider, Netflix on Thursday rolled out a long-awaited feature to its iOS and Apple TV apps, allowing subscribers to maintain separate profiles for individual users sharing one account.

Subscribers will be able to add up to five profiles for each account they own. Profiles will receive unique personalized suggestions based on viewing habits and ratings.

More importantly, those individual accounts will each have their own Instant Queue and Recently Watched lists. For example, parents will no longer have to share a queue with their children, or even spouses with each other, if they so choose.

Each personal profile can also be attached to a different Facebook account, allowing for personalized suggestions from that individual’s friends on the social networking site.

Netflix has promised that the new user profiles will roll out to iPad, iPhone and Apple TV “over the next few days.” Other devices set to receive support in the immediate future are Sony’s PlayStation 3, Microsoft’s Xbox 360, and newer Smart TV and Blu-ray players. Support for Nintendo Wii and Android has been promised to arrive “soon.”

User profiles first began appearing on the Apple TV set-top box earlier this week as part of a test run. That roll-out coincidentally happened after the launch of a new Apple TV software beta, leading some to incorrectly assume the two were related. Current Apple TV owners will receive the feature without needing to run a pre-release beta.

Competition in the mobile streaming space is heating up, with Google’s newly released US$35 Chromecast dongle offering users the ability to stream content from an iPhone or Android device directly to their TV. While less fully featured than the Apple TV, the device is available at about a third of the price.

The price of a refurbished Apple TV direct from Apple also hit a new low this week, and is now available for just US$75, knocking 25 percent off the cost of a new model. A new Apple TV software update, expected to arrive this fall, will also give users the ability to purchase music directly from the device.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you try this new Netflix account feature and have any feedback to offer, please let us know about your experience in the comments.

Apple lowers price of refurbished Apple TV units to $75

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Date: Wednesday, July 31st, 2013, 13:02
Category: Apple TV, News, retail

A little competition sometimes brings out a decent price.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has lowered the price of its refurbished Apple TV units to US$75, knocking 25 percent off the price of a new model.

The price drop could reflect Apple’s reaction to Google’s salvo against the Apple TV, which currently rules the roost among streaming devices. The refurbished model is now just over twice the price of Google’s Chromecast, but it also comes with a 1-year Apple warranty and a much wider feature set than Google’s streaming device.

Most recently, Apple added iTunes music purchasing to its set-top box, and a number of video apps have added AirPlay streaming capabilities over the last few months. Also, users may soon be able to use a touch to configure option to automatically set up their Apple TV devices in the near future.

Inside, the refurbished model has an Apple A5 processor, and it is compatible with high-definition televisions with HDMI and capable of 1080p or 720p at 60/50Hz. It can be purchased directly from Apple, with the refurbished device shipping within 24 hours. Depending on a customer’s location, it may also be available for in-store pickup.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google to begin offering free Wi-Fi Internet access at all 7,000 U.S. Starbucks locations in August

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Date: Wednesday, July 31st, 2013, 07:06
Category: News, wireless


You may or may not have mixed feelings about Google, but hey, free Wi-Fi access at all Starbucks locations across the U.S.

Per 9to5Google, Google has announced that it will soon be supplying WiFi to all Starbucks locations in the United States as a means of advertising its Google Play music service. The offer also includes its new gigabit Google Fiber internet service where available.

Up until now, AT&T provided free Wi-fi access to Starbucks customers in the U.S. (and T-Mobile before that), but it appears that will no longer be the case following the roll out of Google’s networks in the coming weeks.

Google plans to start rolling out its new Starbucks networks next month and hopes to have all 7,000 US locations up and running on its networks within 18 months. Google noted, “You’ll know your new network is ready to go when you can log in to the “Google Starbucks” SSID.”

Earlier this month Google paid US$600,000 to provide 31 San Francisco parks and outdoor spaces with free Wi-Fi for two years, and the company continues to expand its Google Fiber service that was originally launched in Kansas.

If you see a Google connection in your local Starbucks in the coming weeks, please let us know about your experience in the comments.

Google Chrome updated to 28.0.1500.95

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Date: Tuesday, July 30th, 2013, 08:57
Category: News, Software


On Tuesday, Google released version 28.0.1500.95 of its Chrome web browser. The update, a 51.5 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:
– Medium CVE-2013-2881: Origin bypass in frame handling.

– High CVE-2013-2882: Type confusion in V8.

– High CVE-2013-2883: Use-after-free in MutationObserver.

– High CVE-2013-2884: Use-after-free in DOM.

– High CVE-2013-2885: Use-after-free in input handling.

– High CVE-2013-2886: Various fixes from internal audits, fuzzing and other initiatives.

Google Chrome 28.0.1500.95 requires an Intel-based Mac with Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run. If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Latest Apple TV beta allows for iOS device pairing, NFC-like setup

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Date: Tuesday, July 30th, 2013, 07:58
Category: iOS, News, Software

It’s been proven time and time again: the beta versions show the cool stuff that’s en route.

Per 9to5Mac, the latest beta version of iOS 7 for mobile devices and Apple TV introduces a new method of pairing your iOS device’s Remote app with your Apple TV. Previously, the pairing procedure required the use of the regular infrared remote that comes with the Apple TV. The new beta allows the user to simply tap the phone on the Apple TV to connect using Bluetooth. The feature requires a Bluetooth 4.0-capable device, which means only more recent iOS devices are supported.

It’s possible that Apple is using this setup process as a testing platform to decide whether Bluetooth 4.0 could be used as a method of authorizing payments, much like NFC is used on many Android phones. While Phil Schiller noted last year that he did not believe NFC was a critical feature for the iPhone, perhaps Apple is making plans to add NFC-style features via Bluetooth instead. The company could also be considering a tap-to-share AirDrop much like the “bump” feature seen on recent Nexus devices and other Android phones.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Purported “iPhone Lite” case video surfaces

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Date: Friday, July 26th, 2013, 09:56
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The rumors never really stop and if there’s video to go with them, even better.

Per MacRumors, a recent posting of the purported “iPhone Lite”/”iPhone Plastic” has surfaced wherein Michael Kukielka shows off what he claims is the actual shell for the low-cost iPhone and places it next to several previous iPhone models, revealing that the budget phone may have roughly the same dimensions as the current iPhone 5.

The shell Kukielka handles in the video is white, although we’ve previously covered another rumor that alleges the phones will come in a variety of colors, including navy blue, gold, gray, pink, green, blue, yellow, and orange. It’s also slightly thicker than the existing iPhone 5 shell, well in line with supposedly leaked designs that suggest the dimensions sit at around 8.5 mm thick, 124.4 mm tall, and 59.2 mm wide.

The long-rumored low-cost iPhone is said to be primarily intended for countries overseas, such as India, where Apple’s popular smartphone has yet to secure as steady of a foothold as devices carrying Google’s rival Android system. The unit is expected to sell for around US$300-US$500, and MacRumors relates that carrier subsidies could bring that price down to around US$99 where such subsidies are offered.

And now, for your consideration, the video in all its glory:

As always, let us know what you think in the comments.

Google Maps app for iOS hits version 2.0, adds slew of new features

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Date: Wednesday, July 17th, 2013, 07:44
Category: iOS, News, Software


The new version tends to offer something cool.

Per 9to5Mac, Google began rolling out version 2.0 of Google Maps for iOS on Wednesday. Most notably, the new application includes support for the large touch screens found on the iPad and iPad mini.

Additionally, like with the recent update to the Android version, enhanced navigation with incident reports and live traffic updates are included.

Also new is an “Explore” function to browse popular places such as restaurants, shopping, playing, and sleeping. This feature is integrated with Zagat ratings and deals via Google Offers.

The 2.0 update also includes indoor mapping functionality for malls, transit stations, and airports, according to Google. The new update has begun rolling out to some countries in Asia, but is not yet available in the United States. In fact, Google Maps is currently unavailable to download in the App Store for many countries until this update is released.

Google Maps ia available for free and requires iOS 6.0 or later to install and run.