Rumor: Apple to built biometric fingerprint sensor into more expensive iPhone 5S units

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Date: Tuesday, September 10th, 2013, 07:12
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

This is just about the last rumor before Apple hopefully unveils its long-awaited next-gen iPhone(s) today, so here we go.

Per AppleInsider and the Wall Street Journal, sources close to the story last week stated that fingerprint scanners will be built into the “more expensive of two iPhones” Apple plans to announce at a media event on Tuesday, seemingly confirming a long stream of rumors regarding the feature’s inclusion.

The publication speculates that Apple’s entry into the biometric security segment will spark interest from other handset makers to find similar solution. Another source claims at least one smartphone running Google’s Android will incorporate fingerprint security, though it is unknown if the device will be marketed in the U.S.

Apple is expected to field a fingerprint sensor built by AuthenTec, a biometric security firm the Cupertino company purchased for US$356 million in 2012, and plans to place the module under the iPhone’s home button. While other handsets and computers have tried to use fingerprinting methods in the past, Apple’s solution is thought to be much more intuitive and less prone to error.

Instead of swiping a finger across a small sensor strip, the AuthenTec package uses RF field attenuation to map a user’s print. This static means of capture would allow iPhone owners to authenticate by simply pressing the home button as they would when waking the phone from sleep.

Most recently, rumors of a “silver ring” surrounding the “iPhone 5S” home button surfaced, with some claiming the part was added as an aesthetic flourish. AppleInsider, however, reported that Apple’s patent applications suggest the component likely serves a functional purpose in the fingerprint sensor’s design.

All should be revealed at today’s event, which is scheduled to kick off at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google Chrome updated to 29.0.1547.62

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Date: Friday, August 30th, 2013, 08:16
Category: News, Software

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It’s not a monumental change.

But it’s nice to be able to print from Google Docs.

On Friday, Google released version 29.0.1547.62 of its Chrome web browser. The update, a 51.5 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Fixed an issue with printing from Google Docs applications.

Google Chrome 29.0.1547.62 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.

Google Chrome updated to 29.0.1547.57

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Date: Wednesday, August 21st, 2013, 07:05
Category: News, Software

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On Tuesday, Google released version 29.0.1547.57 of its Chrome web browser. The update, a 51.5 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:
- Improved Omnibox suggestions based on the recency of sites you have visited.

- Ability to reset your profile back to its original state.

- Many new apps and extensions APIs.

Lots of stability and performance improvements:
- Incomplete path sanitization in file handling.

- Information leak via overly broad permissions on shared memory files.

- Integer overflow in ANGLE.

- Use after free in XSLT.

- Use after free in media element.

- Use after free in document parsing.

- Various fixes from internal audits, fuzzing and other initiatives.

Google Chrome 29.0.1547.57 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.

Waze realtime incident data now incorporated into Google Maps following acquisition earlier this year

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Date: Tuesday, August 20th, 2013, 07:57
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, News, Software

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This is one of the better sides of companies buying each other out.

Per AppleInsider, crowd sourced traffic data from Waze, a company that Google acquired earlier this year, is now included in the official Google Maps application for iPhone and iPad.

The company announced on its official Lat Long blog on Tuesday that real time incident reports from Waze users will appear in the official Google Maps apps for both iOS and Android in the U.S. and U.K., as well as France, Germany, Switzerland, Mexico, Brazil, Panama, Peru, Chile, Colombia, and Ecuador.

Google has also updated the Waze app for iOS, as well as Android, to add Google Search functionality. Google’s data now joins other search providers in being integrated into Waze.

Finally, Google also announced that the Waze Map Editor has been updated with Google Street View and satellite imagery. This will make it easier for users in the Waze community to correct map errors. Google announced it had acquired Waze, a crowd-sourced traffic and navigation service, in June.

Google announced in June that it had acquired Waze, a popular cross-platform, crowd-sourced traffic and navigation service to bolster its own Google Maps. As of April, Waze had more than 40 million people actively using its service and contributing data.

The Waze iOS application was highlighted by Apple >last year following the launch of iOS 6, when the company promoted alternative mapping applications and apologized for the substandard quality of its own Maps.

Google, in turn, has been working to greater monetize users of its own mapping software on iOS, as the company rolled out new banner ads for the official Google Maps application earlier this month.

If you’ve seen the realtime incident reporting in action and have any feedback to offer about it, let us know in the comments.

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

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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 7.1.1.1888

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

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On Friday, software giant Google released version 7.1.1.1888 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 7.1.1.1888 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

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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

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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.