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

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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 pricing details for iCloud storage

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Date: Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011, 04:34
Category: News, Software

Apple on Monday unveiled more details about its forthcoming iCloud syncing service, including details on pricing. Per Macworld, Apple CEO Steve Jobs had previously declared that Apple device users would get 5GB of iCloud storage for free with the option to add an additional 10GB (a total of 15GB) for US$20 per year, 25GB for US$40 per year, or 55GB for US$100 per year.

In comparison, cloud-storage service Dropbox offers 2GB of storage for free, 50GB for US$120 per year and 100GB for US$240 per year.

Also on Monday, Apple launched a developer beta of iCloud.com, which gives registered developers an early preview of the company’s iOS-like Web apps for iCloud-synced email, contacts, calendars, iWork, and Find My iPhone.

Apple still hasn’t said precisely when iCloud will become available to the masses, but the service is strongly tied to iOS 5, which the company promises will arrive “this fall.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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.