Apple outlines iOS 6 at WWDC, highlights Facebook integration

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, June 12th, 2012, 06:29
Category: iOS, News, Software

Over at WWDC, Apple began to lay out the basics as to what to expect from its upcoming iOS 6 operating system.

Per AppleInsider, Apple’s iOS software chief, Scott Forstall, showed off some of the new features at Monday’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote, including the ability to query Siri for sports scores, dinner reservations with OpenTable, and movie times via RottenTomatoes.

Siri can now also be used to launch Applications. Forstall demonstrated onstage asking the voice control software to play the game “Temple Run,” and it opened on the iPhone. Users can also post messages to Twitter by using their phone.

Language support for Siri has also been improved with Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese and more.

When it launches this fall, iOS 6 will be compatible with the second- and third-generation iPads; the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S; and the fourth-generation iPod touch.

Facebook integration will also go system-wide with iOS 6. Much like with the existing Twitter integration, users simply log in to their Facebook account in the iOS settings application, and users can quickly post to their account or share music, applications or photos with their friends.

Facebook events and birthdays will also appear in the iOS calendar. Users will also be able to “like” applications on the App Store.

Enhancements have also been made to the native phone application in iOS. When declining a call, users are given the option to send a quick message to the person calling, or ask to be reminded later of the call. Quick messages are available to select such as “I’ll call you later” or “I’m on my way.”

Another addition called “Do Not Disturb” allows users to choose a set time range where notifications and alerts are silenced completely. This feature is customizable to allow calls from certain people to come through during those hours.

With iOS 6, users will also be able to make FaceTime video calls over cellular data networks, and are no longer required to be connected to Wi-Fi. The phone number and Apple ID have also been unified, so if someone sends a FaceTime request to a phone number, it can still be answered on an iPad or Mac.

Enhancements for Safari in iOS 6 include iCloud Tabs, which allows users to view and sync websites across a range of devices, as well as the ability to upload photos from directly within Safari on popular websites. Safari will also gain fullscreen support in landscape mode.

PhotoStream has also been enhanced with new sharing features that allow users to share specific pictures or entire albums with others. The social networking style serve will also let users comment on and like photos shared via PhotoStream.

And Mail for iOS will receive a new feature called VIPs, which allows users to specify people whose e-mails are of high priority. These flagged messages will show up in their own separate inbox.

Mail in iOS 6 also adds the ability to easily insert pictures and videos when composing a message, and users can also pull down on the app to refresh and check for messages.

The company also announced that its iOS 6 developer preview was now available as a 186 megabyte download, albeit this requires a developer account to log in and access.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

30 days and counting to switch from MobileMe to iCloud

Posted by:
Date: Friday, June 1st, 2012, 13:17
Category: News, Software

If you were putting the transition to iCloud off for a while, you might want to take care of it.

Per AppleInsider, MobileMe users now have just 30 days remaining to download their photos and files from iDisk, Gallery and iWeb before Apple’s service concludes.

Legacy MobileMe users began receiving e-mails this week warning that the deadline is fast approaching. The company originally announced a year ago that MobileMe will cease to exist as of June 30, 2012.

The deprecated service, which used to be offered for US$99 per year, has been replaced by Apple’s new, free cloud-based offering, dubbed iCloud. As part of that transition to iCloud, the iDisk, Gallery and iWeb services will no longer be offered.

Before MobileMe goes dark on June 30, users should log in to their account and back up and save all of the content that is stored on the Web in the iDisk, Galleries and iWeb services. A step-by-step tutorial on how to do this was published on Friday by the cool cats at Ars Technica.

For those who want to continue using Apple’s cloud-based services, a MobileMe account must be rolled over to iCloud. The transition must be completed by June 30 for users who want to keep their Apple e-mail account, as well as calendars, working properly.

In April, Apple began attempting to entice users to upgrade to iCloud from MobileMe by offering them a free copy of Snow Leopard. The company has also granted MobileMe subscribers a free 20 gigabytes of storage on iCloud until September.

Apple is expected to announce further enhancements to iCloud later this month at its Worldwide Developers Conference. One report has claimed that Apple will launch a new photo sharing feature, while a beta website that was temporarily available to the public suggested Apple plans to add Notes and Reminders to the iCloud.com website.

If you have any feedback as to the transition, please let us know in the comments.

Analyst states that next-gen MacBook Pro could use NAND storage system

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 31st, 2012, 06:00
Category: MacBook Pro, Rumor

el17.jpg

The components found on the next generation of MacBook Pro notebooks could be that much more interesting.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Ben Reitzes of Barclays Equity Research said that the adoption rate of Apple devices using SSDs, along with a continuing move to cloud computing, will push consumer notebook demand toward flash-based storage.

Perhaps the single greatest setback to flash adoption is that the price of solid state solutions grossly outweigh comparable HDDs, keeping the technology out of reach for everyday consumers. This cost ratio may tilt in the physical hard drive’s favor, however consumers have recently started giving up storage space and low cost for design and performance benefits, evidenced by the success of the thin and light MacBook Air.

Reitzes believes that the advent of cloud computing will help ease consumers in the transition from physical drives to flash by offloading storage to servers, thus diminishing the need for pricey high-capacity NAND drives. Apple’s iCloud is already well in-place and has the potential of filling offsite storage needs if the company chooses to move to a NAND-heavy laptop lineup.

For these reasons, the analyst expects Apple to reveal a NAND-equipped MacBook Pro as well as MacBook Airs with increased storage options in the near future.

“We believe these products combined can ramp quarterly demand for Macs by up to 1 million incremental units on a run rate basis – taking over a point of share from HDD-based PCs,” Reitzes said.

The report goes on to say that an estimated 5 to 10 percent of notebook PC sales have been cannibalized by NAND-carrying iPads and iPhones, further impacting HDD demand for PCs. The move to portable products has been dubbed as the “post-PC era,” as consumers begin to replace computers with tablets and handset. Interestingly, this trend toward flash in consumer devices is seen as fueling data growth, which helps to augment sales of enterprise-class HDDs.

Hard drive makers won’t be the only ones to be affected by the trend toward cloud computing and flash storage, and Dell acknowledged earlier in May that PC demand was slowing due to the strong performance of tablets and smartphones. If rumors pan out, the PC market could see further pressure with Apple’s debut of a smaller 7-inch version of the iPad later this year.

It is expected that Apple will outline its intentions for iCloud and possibly introduce a revamped MacBook Pro lineup at WWDC in June.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple begins manufacturing first batch of HDTV units

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, May 29th, 2012, 06:20
Category: Apple TV, Hardware, Rumor

applelogo_silver

Apple’s HDTV units might be en route relatively soon.

Per China Business News, Apple this month is reported to have begun production of the first prototypes of its much-anticipated connected television sets at one of its overseas manufacturing facilities ahead of a general production ramp expected to begin late in the 2012 calendar year.

The news, which was attributed to “informed sources”, was picked up and translated by the WantChinaTimes web site earlier on Monday.

In particular, the publication cited its sources as saying that this initial build plan is taking place in one of Foxconn’s Shenzhen plants as a trial production run, which typically produces a small number of assembly-line-quality prototypes for Apple to put through its design test verification stages. No further details were reported.

While Apple’s foray into the big-screen, connected TV business has been a popular topic of discussion amongst industry watchers for several years, few — if any — reliable details surrounding the project have surfaced outside of a claim by the company’s late co-founder Steve Jobs to biographer Walter Isaacson that he had ‘cracked’ secret to a simple HDTV.

Jobs’s vision for a connected TV, disclosed vaguely to Isaacson prior to his passing last October, would see the device synced with all of a user’s devices, and with Apple’s iCloud service.

The simplified HDTV would reportedly spare users from having to use complex remotes for multiple devices like DVD players and cable boxes. More specifically, Isaacson wrote in the best-selling biography that Jobs “wanted to do for television sets what he had done for computers, music players, and phones: make them simple and elegant.”

Earlier this month, Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou said his manufacturing firm was “making preparations” for an Apple television, but development or manufacturing had not yet begun. But days later, Gou issued a statement to reporters in which he backtracked on those claims, stating that “[a]ny reports that Foxconn confirmed that it is preparing to produce a specific product for any customer are not accurate.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple begins to include Automatic Downloads alert feature to recent Mountain Lion betas

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012, 08:56
Category: News, Software

Apple is going to make sure you’re up to date, no matter what.

Per a tweet by the mighty Zach Kahn, Apple’s previously announced Automatic Downloads feature is slowly coming together in the latest developer preview of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, which features a new Notification Center alert for Mac App Store purchases.

Automatic app installs were touted earlier this year as one of the many new features coming to Mountain Lion. Like on iOS devices, it allows users to have App Store software automatically installed on iCloud-registered Macs.

Automatic Downloads are not yet fully functional in OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, but when users purchase content from the Mac App Store, the OS X Notification Center posts an alert to “Turn on Automatic Downloads to always install new purchases.”

The alert features an “Enable” button, which will allow users to quickly turn on the Automatic Downloads feature of Mountain Lion. However, in the current pre-release build, the feature is not yet operating properly, as software does not automatically install.

Apple debuted the “Apps in the Cloud” feature on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch with the release of iOS 5 late last year. It allows users to shop for apps on one machine and have the same titles automatically download on the rest of their devices with the same iCloud account.

Similar functionality is already available in OS X 10.7 Lion with the latest version of iTunes. Apple’s “iTunes in the Cloud” gives users the ability to automatically download iTunes Store content to their machine when it is purchased through their account on another device.

Previously, the option to turn on “Auto Download Purchases from Other Macs” was available in developer preview builds of Mountain Lion. But with last week’s release of a new version of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion Developer Preview 3, users are now prompted with a notification when App Store content has been purchased through their account.

The latest pre-release build of the Mac operating system update hit the Mac App Store last Wednesday, identified as build “12A206J.” The final release of Mountain Lion is scheduled to go on sale to the public this summer.

Apple has promised to offer a closer look at Mountain Lion at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference, which kicks off June 11 in San Francisco, Calif. WWDC 2012 is also expected to feature the introduction of iOS 6, Apple’s next-generation mobile operating system for iPhone and iPad.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to incorporate photo sharing features in iCloud at WWDC

Posted by:
Date: Monday, May 14th, 2012, 09:20
Category: iCloud, iOS, News, Software

When in doubt, add functionality.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Apple is expected to upgrade its iCloud service with new photo sharing functionality at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June.

The new features will reportedly be announced when WWDC kicks off on June 11 and the new functionality will allow users to share photos with others and also comment on them.

That’s a major improvement from the current Photo Stream functionality in iCloud, which simply syncs pictures across devices rather than giving users the ability upload and share them publicly or with friends.

If true, the new photo sharing functionality would be another attempt at social networking on the part of Apple. The company launched a social networking component of iTunes with Ping in 2010, but that effort has largely failed to gain traction despite integration with Twitter.

Monday’s report also reaffirmed that Apple is planning to add support for synced Notes and Reminders to an upgraded iCloud.com website. Apple itself tipped its hand to those upgrades last week, when the site beta.icloud.com was temporarily accessible to the public.

Last week Apple’s regular iCloud.com site also showed a test banner notification to users, suggesting that feature is also in the works for the iCloud website. Monday’s report made no mention of Web-based notification syncing for iCloud.

Apple will show off the future of both iOS and OS X at WWDC when it kicks off on June 11 in San Francisco, Calif. The company is expected to reveal more about this summer’s OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion update, and also unveil iOS 6 for iPhone and iPad.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iCloud beta site shows possible upcoming Notes, Reminders functionality

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 11th, 2012, 10:07
Category: iCloud, Rumor, Software

While it’s not a wild stretch of the imagination in terms of added functionality, this could be useful.

The beta.icloud.com web site has been sporadically available today and seems to suggest that Apple is looking to add Notes and Reminders to iCloud’s syncing services.

The change was discovered by developer Steve Troughton-Smith and another space was also included in the beta site for iCloud for another service, though the image link was broken and did not display. It’s unclear whether the website was a beta for iCloud before it launched last year, or if it was a test for a forthcoming update to the service.

However, the beta site for iCloud was not functional as of Friday, as attempts to sign in to the page were not successful. The site has since been pulled offline, and forwards to Apple’s overview page for the iCloud service.

The beta site is the second unintentional iCloud-related leak from Apple this week. On Tuesday, the regular iCloud.com site showed a test banner notification to users, suggesting that feature is also in the works for the iCloud website.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: AppleCare training schedule now pointing towards June launch of Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion)

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, May 9th, 2012, 05:30
Category: Rumor, Software

No one ever said it was easy to keep a secret.

Per AppleInsider, the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) division of AppleCare is allegedly hiring and training new staff on certain aspects of Apple’s upcoming OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, possibly hinting that a release date is soon to arrive.

According to an unnamed source familiar with the matter, AppleCare EMEA is hiring a number of new employees who will serve as customer support for the new operating system that has yet to receive an official launch date.

The source went on to say that Mountain Lion may be just a few weeks from launch as internal training recently commenced regarding certain facets of the operating system. Apple usually restricts the operating window of support staff training to a minimum before large product release presumably to avoid leaks.

Though purely speculation, the training could point to a OS X 10.8 debut at WWDC 2012 which is scheduled to take place from June 11 to June 15.

OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion was announced on Feb. 16 with an expected release date of summer 2012. Beyond the basic information provided on Apple’s website, developer previews have revealed that the new OS will offer a bevy of new features like Messages and more comprehensive integration with iCloud that will further blur the line between OS X and iOS.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple extends MobileMe users’ complimentary 20GB of online storage space deadline to September 30th

Posted by:
Date: Monday, May 7th, 2012, 06:21
Category: iCloud, News, Software

You can’t knock both a deadline extension as well as additional storage space.

Per Mac Otakara, Apple has extended the additional 20 gigabytes of MobileMe storage from its original June 30 expiration to Sept. 30. A Frequently Asked Questions page on Apple’s website was recently updated to reflect the extension.

“MobileMe members with 20GB of purchased storage receive a complimentary iCloud storage upgrade of 20GB, and accounts with additional purchased storage (40GB to 60GB) receive a complimentary upgrade of 50GB after moving to iCloud. These free upgrades are good through September 30th, 2012,” the site read.

After September, former MobileMe customers can either pay to keep the storage or downgrade to the free 5GB iCloud plan. Though it’s not exactly clear when Apple revealed the extension, a cache of the FAQ page by Google from April 30 does not include the above paragraph.

Last month, it was discovered that Apple had begun offering free copies of OS X Snow Leopard to MobileMe users still on OS X Leopard. Subscribers could then pay for an upgrade to OS X Lion themselves in order to make the move to iCloud.

Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs took the wraps off iCloud last June and promised that it would be a step up from MobileMe, which he said was not Apple’s “finest hour.” Since the company launched iCloud last fall, it has attracted more than 125 million users.

Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer revealed last month during a quarterly earnings call that the company considers revenue from iCloud storage plans to be incidental. “Our real desire here was not about selling more storage… We just really wanted to increase the customer delight,” he said.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Google Drive service launched, users begin with 5GB of free online storage space

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, April 25th, 2012, 06:21
Category: News, Software

You just can’t knock free cloud space.

Per Google’s official blog, the company launched its long-rumored Google Drive service was officially launched on Tuesday, offering users 5 gigabytes of free cloud-based file storage.

Google Drive was presented as a service that allows users to “create, share, collaborate, and keep all of your stuff.” It allows users to upload and access all file types, including videos, photos, Google Docs, PDFs and more.

Users can start at drive.google.com/start#home and the Google Drive application can also be installed on a Mac or Windows PC to sync files locally. A Drive application is now available for Google Android devices, while the company said it is “working hard” on a version of Drive for iOS devices.

Storage can be upgraded to 20 gigabytes for US$5 per year, 80 gigabytes for US$20, 200 gigabytes for US$50, 400 gigabytes for US$100, and one terabyte for US$256.

Upgrading to a paid account will also give Gmail users a boost on their e-mail storage through Google to 25 gigabytes. Storage used in Gmail does not come out of space allotted for Google Drive.

In comparison, Apple’s iCloud service, which launched last October, comes with 5 gigabytes for free, while users can buy an additional 10 gigabytes for US$20 per year, 20 gigabytes for US$40, or 50 gigabytes for US$100.

Google said that Drive allows users to work with others in real time on documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Using the new service, users can also share content easily, and add and reply to comments on anything, including PDFs, images, or video files.

Of course, the company’s search technology is also a part of the package, granting the ability to search by keyword and filter by type, owner and more. Google Drive can also recognize text in scanned documents using Optical Character Recognition technology.

Drive also ties in with other Google products, allowing users to attach photos from Drive to posts in the Google+ social networking service. Soon, users will also be able to attach files from Drive directly to e-mails in Gmail.

Google also boasted that drive is an “open platform,” which will allow third-party developers to enable new features. Some of the additions mentioned by the company include the ability to send faxes, edit videos, and create website mockups.

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