Apple TV 4.3.3 update out the door, adds functionality for playing purchased videos, Vimeo content

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Date: Monday, August 1st, 2011, 13:45
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

If there’s one universal truth, it’s this: updates are nifty.

Per Macworld, Apple on Monday released iOS 4.3.3 for its second-generation Apple TV set top device. Up until now, you could stream any TV shows purchased from the iTunes Store housed on a computer using Apple’s Home Sharing feature or via AirPlay. Both, however, require that the computer be turned on and accessible on your network—and that the files themselves are still on your hard drive. With this latest update, any TV shows you’ve purchased (or downloaded, in the case of free TV show episodes) are instantly available to stream over the Internet as what appears to be an extension of Apple’s iTunes in the Cloud functionality.

Under the TV Shows menu on the Apple TV’s home screen, you’ll now find a Purchased item at the top.

The update also adds support for playing videos from Vimeo, a popular video-sharing website that offers HD hosting.

Apple now includes directly Vimeo upload support in both its iMovie and Final Cut Pro X video-editing applications, so including a viewing option on the Apple TV is both natural and welcome.

To update your Apple TV to the latest software, go to Settings -> General -> Update Software and follow the directions.

At the same time, Apple added the ability to re-download TV shows in iTunes and on iOS devices, as it already does with music, books, and apps.

If you’ve tried the new update on your second-generation Apple TV, let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Rumor: Apple to release next-gen MacBook Air, Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) by next week

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Date: Friday, July 8th, 2011, 03:46
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

With the middle of July almost upon us, the long-awaited arrival of Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) and a refreshed MacBook Air notebook are something we’re hankering for. Per CNET, a “few overseas sources” have stated that “Apple Retail stores are planning ‘overnights’ on July 13th.” Overnights typically entail a refresh of Apple store displays and training on new products.

The cool cats at AppleInsider have also heard similar chatter, citing a “bulletin” posted to Apple’s internal retail news network “advising store management to perform RAM upgrades to certain Mac models on the showroom floors by Sunday, July 10th at the latest.” The deduction: this is needed to ready those models for upgrades to Lion.

Apple is already on the record with statements about a July release. At its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June, the company announced that it would be releasing Lion as a US$29.99 update to users in July. The OS has already reached gold master status, according to reports.

Probably not coincidentally, the OS X Lion page on Apple’s site shows the new operating system running on the MacBook Air.

Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) will bring plenty of enhancements and tweaks, including iCloud services built into the software, iOS-style Launchpad to house apps, full-screen apps and previewing Preview PDFs full-screen, Mission Control that comes up with a three-finger swipe, automatic tracking of document version history, and a resume feature that picks up where the user left off, among other new features.

The new MacBook Air is expected to weigh only 2.3 pounds (for the 11.6-inch model) and is anticipated to feature a fast Intel Sandy Bridge Core i series processors for the first time and a Thunderbolt port–both features already present on its 13-inch MacBook Pro cousin.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Amazon announces new plans, unlimited space with Cloud Drive offerings

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Date: Thursday, July 7th, 2011, 03:10
Category: News, Software

It’s the competition that keeps things interesting.

Amazon announced Wednesday a promotion offering unlimited music storage to users who purchase a Cloud Drive storage plan, heating up competition before Apple’s fall launch of its iCloud and iTunes Match services.

Per AppleInsider, the online retailer revealed three enhancements to its Cloud Drive and Cloud Player services in a statement Wednesday: storage plans that include unlimited space for music, free storage for all Amazon MP3 purchases and an iPad version of Cloud Player for Web.

“Customers are already enjoying Cloud Drive and Cloud Player and now for just US$20 a year, customers can get unlimited space for music,” said Craig Pape, Director of Amazon Music. “Additionally, we are adding free storage for all MP3s purchased from Amazon MP3, and support for the iPad. Our customers love Cloud Drive and Cloud Player and we’re excited to innovate these services on their behalf.”

The unlimited music storage applies to all premium Cloud Drive accounts, which start at US$20 a year for 20GB. Users who qualified for 20GB of free storage from an earlier promotion will automatically receive the unlimited space for music. Amazon offers 5GB of free space to all Cloud Drive users.

The addition of an iPad-friendly Amazon Cloud Player is a step back in Apple’s direction, though no mention is made of iPhone or iPod touch compatibility. Cloud Player originally launched for the Web and Google’s Android mobile OS, without direct support for iOS and Mobile Safari. In May, iOS users reported being able to access the Cloud Player, despite the fact that full compatibility had yet to be officially announced.

Whereas only new Amazon MP3 store purchases were automatically added to Cloud Drive when the service first launched in March, now all digital music purchased from Amazon will be added to the drive. The retroactive support for previously purchased music appears to indicate that Amazon has resolved any conflicts with the music industry of its service.

Apple is planning a similar move with its iCloud service, and offered the first taste of its cloud strategy last month with the release of iTunes 10.3, which allows re-downloading of music, apps and books purchased on iTunes and the App Store. When iCloud arrives in the fall, the service will provide complimentary storage of music, apps and books purchased from Apple. However, unlike Amazon’s Cloud Drive, iCloud does not stream music.

Amazon reportedly opted for an ‘ask forgiveness, not permission’ strategy with Cloud Drive, surprising music labels with the announcement of the service. Music industry sources said Amazon only addressed the issue of negotiating licenses after launching the service, leaving some industry members to view the service as illegal.

Google launched a beta of its own music service in May. However, the search giant was unsuccessful in negotiating new licenses with major music labels and has yet to open a full music store as originally planned.

Amazon and Apple will likely compete for subscribers with their respective Cloud Drive and iTunes Match services. Amazon’s cloud offerings require manual uploading of non-Amazon music files, but also offer streaming, and start at a lower price of US$20 a year. On the other hand, iTunes Match runs US$25 a year and will scan and match users’ iTunes libraries with songs available in the iTunes Music Store. Matched songs will then automatically be available for download in iCloud, and the small portion of unmatched musical will be uploaded. Like Amazon, Apple will offer 5GB of free storage for iCloud users.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple developing iOS-based HDTV for late 2011 release

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Date: Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011, 07:35
Category: Apple TV, Hardware, Rumor

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Sometimes you have to turn a hobby into a full-time job.

Per DailyTech, Apple is rumored to be working on an iOS-powered connected TV, possibly for release as early as this fall.

A former Apple executive, speaking anonymously, said the company plans to “blow Netflix and all those other guys away” by bundling Apple TV + iTunes inside a physical display, DailyTech reports. Apple is reportedly teaming up with a major supplier to provide the rebranded television sets, the source noted.

When questioned why an OEM would cut into its sales by providing Apple with units, the source said, “If you have to be competing with somebody, you want to be competing with yourself.”

The tipster indicated a planned fall launch, while noting that the product could get pushed to next year because of Apple’s “high standards.” A fall launch could coincide with the launch of the next-generation iPhone, as well as iOS 5 and iCloud.

“You’ll go into an Apple retail store and be able to walk out with a TV. It’s perfect,” the source said. According to the unverified report, the iOS-driven televisions would support third-party apps.

Rumors of an Apple Smart TV have existed for years, with Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster repeatedly forecasting the product. Munster has suggested that an Internet-connected TV from Apple may have a starting price in the range of US$2,000.

In March, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty said Asian suppliers had told her Apple had built a Smart TV prototype. According to Huberty, an Apple-branded TV could add as much as US$4 billion per 1 percent share of the TV market Apple is able to capture over the next two years.

Then, in April, Brian White with Ticonderoga Securities said “data points” from a China electronics trade show suggested Apple could launch an HDTV set possibly by the end of the year. “Our research suggests this Smart TV would go well beyond the miniature US$99 second-generation Apple TV that the company released last fall and provide a full-blown TV product for consumers,” White said.

Though Apple CEO Steve Jobs said last year that the Apple TV set top box product is “a hobby” for the company, sales of the US$99 second-generation model have improved over the first-generation. After the company sold 250,000 units in the first six weeks of availability, Jobs said Apple was “thrilled” with the figures.

Apple went on to sell 1 million Apple TVs within three months of the device’s launch. However, analysts have estimated that a million units per quarter would amount to a “fairly immaterial” $400 million in annual revenue.

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of Concord Securities said in April that Apple TV sales had reached 2 million, reportedly selling 820,000 units in the March quarter.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Recently discovered FCC filing points towards upcoming AirPort Extreme device

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Date: Tuesday, June 21st, 2011, 04:11
Category: News, wireless

Sometimes it’s the FCC filings that give it away.

Per Engadget, A new filing with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission has revealed an updated AirPort Extreme wireless base station from Apple is forthcoming.

The new hardware was outed this week by an FCC filing, made by Apple on June 16, which shows a 3×3 802.11n access point, dubbed model A1408.

The label includes mention of AirPort IDs in both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz range, as well as an Ethernet ID. The hardware carries an FCC ID of BCGA1408.

The documents do not reveal what may have changed in the new hardware model, but it’s likely the new hardware is set for imminent release given the timing of the FCC filing.

Last week, Apple updated its AirPort Utility, and the software contains references to a new fourth-generation Time Capsule and fifth-generation AirPort Extreme. No mention of a new Time Capsule was made in the latest FCC filings, but given that stock of the hardware has run dry along with AirPort base stations, it’s a likely candidate for a refresh as well.

Various rumors have claimed that Apple may shift its base stations to run iOS. This transition could allow for more robust features, like print and media streaming services, integration with iCloud, and cached wireless software updates.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple sitting on MacBook Air product refresh until Mac OS X 10.7 is released

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Date: Monday, June 20th, 2011, 06:27
Category: MacBook Air, Rumor

Apple is sitting on at least one refresh of its Mac notebook line, waiting for Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) to be released in July.

Per Macworld UK, sources close to the story have said that new MacBook Air models featuring Intel Sandy Bridge processors and the Thunderbolt expansion port have been ready for some time, but Apple doesn’t want to release them featuring the old Mac OS X 10.6 operating system. This was released in June 2009.

The Macrumors.com Buyer’s Guide, which tracks the intervals by which Apple refreshes its hardware, supports this view. It shows all portable Mac products are reaching the end of their typical sales cycle, with the exception of the MacBook Pro, which was updated earlier this year. The Mac Mini is also due for an update.

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion is due in July and is more than a simple operating system upgrade. The new OS hooks users into iCloud, Apple’s new storage service, which offers benefits including seamlessly storing music and personal files online. iCloud represents a major new direction for Apple, which sees it as a way of tying together its various desktop and mobile platforms, as well as providing an additional method for delivering media to users.

In the past Apple overcame the issue of hardware releases not chiming with OS X release dates by bundling CPU Drop-In discs with new Macs. The computer came an older version of the OS preinstalled, while the disc allowed the user to manually upgrade to the latest release at their leisure.

However, Mac OS X 10.7 Lion will only be available for download via the Mac App Store, installed on all Macs running the current Mac OS release. OS X Lion will not be available on DVD in any way, shape or form — making it unavailable via traditional retail channels too.

Theoretically it should still be possible for Apple to bundle a voucher code that would allow users to upgrade for free via the App Store. However, Apple is traditionally resistant to registration keys of the kind that blight the life of Windows users. Mac OS X retail releases have never used them, for example, and retail releases of the iWork productivity suite have dropped the need for registration keys completely. The Mac App Store also avoids the needs for registration by using digital rights management to tie the software to a user’s computer.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple AirPort Utility 5.5.3 update may point towards next-gen AirPort Extreme, Time Capsule devices

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Date: Wednesday, June 15th, 2011, 03:51
Category: News, Time Capsule, wireless


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It may be a small update, but it could mean something more.

Per AppleInsider, a routine update to Apple’s Airport Utility application contains references to new 4th generation Time Capsule and 5th generation AirPort Extreme devices, according to a new report.

After Apple released the AirPort Utility 5.5.3 update for Windows and Mac on Monday, device listings were uncovered in the update’s binary, MacRumors reports. Apple’s documentation for the 10MB downloads lists only that it “resolves an issue that caused the AirPort Utitlity to unexpectedly quit during setup.”

Of particular interest are listings for “K31 K30B Time Capsule (Simultaneous Dual-Band, Gen3)” and “K10B Apple AirPort Extreme (Simultaneous Dual-Band, Gen3).” Elsewhere in the code for the utility, the rumored devices are reportedly listed as “Time Capsule 802.11n (4th Generation)” and “AirPort Extreme 802.11n (5th Generation).”

Apple’s current simultaneous dual-band AirPort products, which were last updated in October 2009, are described as “Gen2.”

Recent reports have suggested that available stock of Apple’s AirPort and Time Capsule wireless base stations has dwindled ahead of a product update. The latest rumors claim Apple may shift the base stations to run iOS.

iOS-based AirPort base stations could allow for more robust features, such as print and media streaming services, integration with iCloud, and cached wireless software updates. Code references in AirPort Utility seem to support the likelihood of software update caching, according to people familiar with the matter.

Also, indications that Apple is working on wireless drivers for non-Intel CPUs may point to the possibility that Apple plans to enable iOS devices to setup and configure new AirPort or Time Capsule devices without the help of a Mac or Windows PC. Such a move could align with Apple’s Post PC strategy, as the company recently revealed that the forthcoming iOS 5 has been designed to be “PC Free” by way of wireless activation, syncing and backup.

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 unveils iOS 5, cites 200 new features, highlights 10 for keynote

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Date: Tuesday, June 7th, 2011, 10:41
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

Not that the iOS user base has done anything wrong, but there’s going to be some changes around here…

Per Mac|Life, Apple sent in Senior Vice President of iOS Software Scott Forstall took the stage to talk about the 1,500 new APIs that developers will have to tap into, with 200 new features to end users/

10 of them were shown yesterday and boil down as follows:

Notification Center: This gathers information in one easy-to-use spot which is accessed by swiping from the top of the screen. Notifications will also be featured on the lock screen, where you can swipe across any of them to go straight to the app in question.

Newsstand: Brings all of your magazine, newspaper and other periodical subscriptions to one place. “When you purchase them they’re automatically downloaded and placed on the Newsstand,” Forstall explained, showing off an integrated “newspaper stand” type graphic on the home screen.

Twitter: The rumors of deep Twitter integration into iOS 5 appear to have come true. There will be a single sign-on location in the iOS Settings and the feature will be integrated with apps such as the Camera and Photos for quick sharing.

Reader: The Reader view in desktop Safari is finally coming to Mobile Safari, which certainly poses a threat to existing services such as Readability. Reader for Mobile Safari will allow you to email the contents of a story as well as the link, and the browser will also gain the much-rumored Reading List feature similar to Instapaper. Last but not least, tabbed browsing finally comes to Mobile Safari as well. “It is lightning fast to switch between windows now,” Forstall exclaimed. Potentially putting another class of third-party developers out of business, Apple will introduce a slick new Reminders feature to iOS 5 which syncs across devices as well as to iCal.

Camera Button: iOS 5 will finally introduce a dedicated Camera button on the lock screen for quick one-tap access, and Apple has finally allowed use of the volume up button as a dedicated camera shutter. The Camera app also gains an auto exposure and auto focus lock, pinch to zoom and the ability to do basic editing such as crop, rotate and red-eye reduction without leaving the app.

iOS Mail: The app will gain rich text formatting, indentation control, draggable addresses, entire content searching and the ability to mark emails as unread if you want to act on them later. Security is also getting a boost with the use of S/MIME, and there’s finally a built-in dictionary that’s now a service across the entire iOS platform as well.

PC Free: iOS will no longer require a physical connection to the computer to enable syncing. “We know we’re selling to a lot of places where the households just don’t have computers,” Forstall confesses. Now you’ll be able to take your device out of the box and setup/activate right on the device. Software updates will also now come over the air, and they will be in the form of “delta” updates with just the new bits, rather than having to download hundreds of megabytes each time.

Game Center: “iOS is the most popular gaming platform on the planet,” Forstall boasts. “There are more than 100,000 game and entertainment titles in the App Store.” Citing more than 50 million Game Center users in only nine months — eclipsing Xbox Live’s 30 million users in eight years — Forstall promises that the service will get even more social with friend and game recommendations and even the ability to purchase and download games directly from the app.

Finally, Forstall introduced the new iMessage service for iOS users, supporting all of the company’s devices. Users can send text messages, photos, videos, contacts and group messages with delivery and read receipts as well as real-time typing notification. Start a conversation on your iPhone and pick up where you left off on the iPad, and it works over both 3G and Wi-Fi.

Among the other features coming to iOS 5 are AirPlay mirroring, wireless sync with iTunes (hooray!), multitasking gestures and much more. iOS 5 was released to developers via an updated SDK yesterday and will ship to customers in the fall alongside the free iCloud service, with support from the iPhone 3GS and up.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple demoes upcoming iCloud features, announces fall release date

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Date: Tuesday, June 7th, 2011, 05:09
Category: iTunes, News, Software

In the midst of everything at WWDC on Monday, Apple showed off its long-awaited iCloud service, describing it as a service that stores content, wirelessly pushes it to devices, and integrates with applications — all at no cost to users.

Per AppleInsider, iCloud was demonstrated by Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs, who even admitted that the previous MobileMe service was not Apple’s “finest hour.” But he also said that despite the company’s previous mistakes, iCloud is a new product.

“Today it is a real hassle and very frustrating to keep all your information and content up-to-date across all your devices,” Jobs said. “iCloud keeps your important information and content up to date across all your devices. All of this happens automatically and wirelessly, and because it’s integrated into our apps you don’t even need to think about it—it all just works.”

Apple is ready to ramp iCloud in its three data centers, including the third recently completed in Maiden, NC. Apple has invested over US$500 million in its Maiden data center to support the expected customer demand for the free iCloud services.

The free iCloud services include:
The former MobileMe services — Contacts, Calendar and Mail — all completely re-architected and rewritten to work seamlessly with iCloud. Users can share calendars with friends and family, and the ad-free push Mail account is hosted at me.com. Your inbox and mailboxes are kept up-to-date across all your iOS devices and computers.

The App Store and iBookstore now download purchased iOS apps and books to all your devices, not just the device they were purchased on. In addition, the App Store and iBookstore now let you see your purchase history, and simply tapping the iCloud icon will download any apps and books to any iOS device (up to 10 devices) at no additional cost.

iCloud Backup automatically and securely backs up your iOS devices to iCloud daily over Wi-Fi when you charge your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Backed up content includes purchased music, apps and books, Camera Roll (photos and videos), device settings and app data. If you replace your iOS device, just enter your Apple ID and password during setup and iCloud restores your new device.

iCloud Storage seamlessly stores all documents created using iCloud Storage APIs, and automatically pushes them to all your devices. When you change a document on any device, iCloud automatically pushes the changes to all your devices. Apple’s Pages, Numbers and Keynote apps already take advantage of iCloud Storage. Users get up to 5GB of free storage for their mail, documents and backup—which is more amazing since the storage for music, apps and books purchased from Apple, and the storage required by Photo Stream doesn’t count towards this 5GB total. Users will be able to buy even more storage, with details announced when iCloud ships this fall.

iCloud’s Photo Stream service automatically uploads the photos you take or import on any of your devices and wirelessly pushes them to all your devices and computers. Photo Stream is built into the photo apps on all iOS devices, iPhoto on Macs, and saved to the Pictures folder on a PC. To save space, the last 1,000 photos are stored on each device so they can be viewed or moved to an album to save forever. Macs and PCs will store all photos from the Photo Stream, since they have more storage. iCloud will store each photo in the cloud for 30 days and automatically download the latest photos from Photo Stream via Wi-Fi.

iTunes in the Cloud lets you download your previously purchased iTunes music to all your iOS devices at no additional cost, and new music purchases can be downloaded automatically to all your devices. In addition, music not purchased from iTunes can gain the same benefits by using iTunes Match, a service that replaces your music with a 256 kbps AAC DRM-free version if it can be matched to the over 18 million songs in the iTunes Store, it makes the matched music available in minutes (instead of weeks to upload your entire music library), and uploads only the small percentage of unmatched music. iTunes Match will be available this fall for a US$24.99 annual fee. Apple today is releasing a free beta version of iTunes in the Cloud, without iTunes Match, for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users running iOS 4.3. iTunes in the Cloud will support all iPhones that iOS 5 supports this fall.

Features from the demo include the following:

Contact, Calendar and Mail Sync: Like MobileMe, iCloud will offer syncing of contacts, calendars and mail. It will also be an ad-free service, and will ship with all iOS 5 devices this fall.

iCloud will come set up by default on new iOS 5 devices. Users will also be given 5GB of storage for mail, all free through the new service.

iCloud will be integrated in the App Store on iOS devices, allowing users to see all of the applications they own, even if they are not installed on the current device.

Backup to the Cloud: Devices can also be backed up to the cloud, for users who want to become truly PC-free. Content will be backed up to the cloud every day, and users will identify their account with a username and password login on any device.

Backups will occur over Wi-Fi only, and will apply to a number of applications on iOS devices, including purchased music, books and applications; photos and video stored in the camera roll; device settings; and app data.

Documents in the Cloud:
A new feature called Documents in the Cloud automatically backs up documents created in Pages, Numbers or Keynote in the iCloud service. The newly released versions of the iWork suite for iOS already have this feature built in.

Developers will also have access to iCloud application programming interfaces for their software. Applications will be allowed to store full documents, and they will be pushed to a user’s device automatically. It will work across all iOS devices, as well as Macs and PCs.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you have your two cents to throw in, let us know via the comments.