Apple TV 6.0 out the door, adds support for AirPlay, iTunes Radio, other new features

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Date: Friday, September 20th, 2013, 11:05
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

On a day filled to the brim with iPhone 5s and 5c happenings, Apple pulled the trigger on the good stuff for its Apple TV set top box.

Per AppleInsider, Apple released its anticipated software update to Apple TV today. The new software adds the followings fixes and changes:
- Added support for iTunes Radio and AirPlaying content from iCloud — like music from iTunes Match — to another person’s Apple TV.

- Allows users to take any purchased iTunes content — such as music, movies or TV episodes — and stream it directly to an Apple TV that may not be configured with their iTunes login credentials. The authentication is instead provided wirelessly by a connected iOS device, like an iPhone or iPad.

- Added access to purchases from the iTunes Music Store, and allows users to sync their podcasts. Photos from a shared Photo Stream can also be accessed.

- Added support for the newly launched iTunes Radio service, which is similar to established streaming Internet music provider Pandora. iTunes Radio debuted on Wednesday on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch with the release of iOS 7.

The new Apple TV update may be the last software refresh before the company’s rumored Apple TV hardware reboot. The company took delivery of a mysterious shipment of “set top boxes” in the days leading up the iPhone 5s and 5c announcement.

As always, the software can be downloaded and installed by entering the Apple TV’s General Settings, then clicking “Software Update”.

If you’ve tried the new Apple TV software and have any comments or feedback about it, please let us know in the comments.

iCloud keychain feature goes missing from iOS 7 golden master, no clear explanation given as to why

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Date: Thursday, September 12th, 2013, 07:06
Category: iOS, News, security, Software

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Ok, this is a little weird.

Per AppleInsider, developers updating their devices to the iOS 7 Golden Master seed have found that iCloud keychain, Apple’s new cloud-based credential storage system, has disappeared.

iCloud Keychain, a new feature of iOS 7 and OS X 10.9 Mavericks that allows users to securely store account names, passwords, and credit card information in iCloud and sync the data between their Macs, iPhones, and iPads, appears to have been removed from the latest iOS 7 pre-release seed.

The feature, revealed at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June, previously appeared as a toggle in the iCloud settings menu, but is now missing.

In addition, Apple’s iOS 7 ‘What’s New’ page now lists iCloud Keychain as ‘Coming Soon,’ an indication that there has been a change to the feature’s delivery schedule. It is possible that Cupertino may have opted to delay the release to coincide with the rollout of OS X Mavericks, which is expected in late October.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: OS X 10.9 Mavericks to arrive in late October

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Date: Friday, September 6th, 2013, 07:11
Category: Rumor, Software

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You might have to wait until the end of next month to get your mitts on Mavericks.

Per 9to5Mac, despite being announced in early June at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, the next major Mac update, OS X 10.9 Mavericks, may not arrive until late October.

Citing sources with knowledge of Apple’s alleged launch plans, the web site reported on Friday that the debut for Mavericks is nearly two months away. In addition, the site also cited apparent “chatter” that iOS 7 for iPad won’t be available until October as well.

Last year, Apple surprised when it unveiled OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion in February with little fanfare, outside of a typical keynote address. The software then became available in the Mac App Store in late July, or about five months later.

That means this year’s time between announcement and launch of OS X 10.9 Mavericks would actually be shorter than the same window for OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion was in 2012. Still, some had expected that next Mac operating system might launch in the near future, perhaps as soon as Apple’s iPhone media event next week.

Just this week, developers were supplied with the seventh preview build of Mavericks. The latest developer preview includes performance enhancements but still isn’t ready for the public, with features like iCloud Keychain remaining a work in progress.

Apple hasn’t given a specific launch window for Mavericks beyond this fall. When it does launch, it will pack in new features such as iBooks for Mac, Finder Tabs, Apple Maps, App Nap, Compressed Memory, and more.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Parallels Desktop 9 announced, adds cloud support, Windows 8 Start button, other new features

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Date: Thursday, August 29th, 2013, 09:47
Category: News

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Parallels announced its Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac client today, the new version of the virtualization software offering the following set of fixes and features:
- Cloud storage optimizations for iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive and SkyDrive.

- Support for OS X Launchpad in Windows applications

- Enhanced support for Apple’s forthcoming OS X 10.9 Mavericks.

- Incorporates the familiar Start menu and Windows Start button for Windows 8 users..

- Extends the OS X PowerNap feature to Windows and Windows applications.

- Allows Mountain Lion Dictionary gesture compatibility in Windows apps.

- Allows users to connect Thunderbolt and FireWire devices to either their Mac or virtual machine, just like with USB.

- Enhances the virtual machine wizard, making it easier to create new systems by automatically locating operating systems on a Mac. Users can also manually select a range of media types to install.

- 40 percent better disk performance than the previous version.

- Virtual machines shut down up to 25 percent faster than the previous version.

- Virtual machines suspend up to 20 percent faster than the previous version.

- 3D graphics and web browsing is 15 percent faster than the previous version.

- A new Security Center in Parallels Desktop 9 is said to make it easier to ensure that files are secure, both on the Mac and in a Windows virtual machine.

- In addition, Parallels Desktop 9 comes with a six-month subscription to Parallels Access for iPad, announced earlier this week. That new software allows customers to remotely access and experience Windows and Mac applications as if they were designed for Apple’s iPad.

- Mac gestures inside Windows apps: Parallels Desktop now includes the addition of the Dictionary lookup gesture in Windows applications.

- PDF printer for Windows: Lets people print from any Windows application to a PDF on the Mac desktop, even if the application doesn’t have that functionality.

- Sticky multi-monitor setup: When using Windows in Full Screen mode and connecting to an external monitor, Parallels Desktop will remember settings and put the Windows virtual machine back in full screen mode on the remote monitor.

- Custom keyboard: Editable keyboard shortcuts help customize the Windows experience.

- Linux guest integration: Parallels Desktop customers who use Linux now have additional and enhanced integration with the Mac OS.

Parallels Desktop 9 for Mac will become broadly available for purchase next Thursday, Sept. 5. It is now available as a US$50 upgrade for legacy Parallels users, and a free upgrade for those who recently bought Parallels Desktop 8.

Thursday’s launch of Parallels Desktop 9 is available for existing customers for US$49.99, while those who recently purchased may be eligible for a free upgrade. Customers who buy Parallels Desktop 8 today will also be eligible to upgrade to the new version at no additional charge.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iBooks 3.1.1 update

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Date: Wednesday, August 21st, 2013, 09:58
Category: iOS, News, Software

You can’t kvetch about this kind of update.

Late Tuesday, Apple released version 3.1.1 of its iBooks update for its iOS reader program.

The new version, a 41 megabyte download, offers the following fixes and changes:

- This version of iBooks improves compatibility with iOS and iCloud.

iBooks 3.1.1 requires a compatible iOS device and 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.

Apple releases iTunes 11.0.5 update

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Date: Monday, August 19th, 2013, 06:22
Category: News, Software

You can’t really argue against a substantial iTunes bug fix.

Late Friday, Apple released version 11.0.5 of its iTunes multimedia/jukebox application. The new version, a 196.6 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

- Corrected an issue with iTunes in the Cloud, where some purchases may download or play unexpected items.

iTunes 11.0.5 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later to install and run.

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

Apple releases Mavericks Developer Preview 5, OS X 10.8.5 build 12F33 to developer community

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Date: Thursday, August 8th, 2013, 06:14
Category: News, Software

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Mavericks is coming that much closer to fruition and bringing iBooks for the Mac with it.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Wednesday released the latest beta versions of OS X 10.9 Mavericks, allowing developers for the first time to test its iBooks software for Mac.

OS X 10.9 Mavericks Developer Preview 5 comes a little over two weeks after the fourth preview was made available at the end of July. Due to an eight-day downtime after Apple’s Developer Center was affected by an intruder, the timing of the latest Mavericks release is slightly off from the two-week cycle Apple had kept until Developer Preview 4.

Notable in the latest preview is the inclusion of iBooks for OS X, which was announced at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Like Apple Maps, iBooks will make the crossover from iOS to OS X when Mavericks launches this fall.

As with previous version of Mavericks, Developer Preview 5 contains minor backend changes. Release notes from a previous Developer Preview suggested changes were made to bring support for iCloud Keychain.

Apple’s maintenance update for the current OS X 10.8.5 Mountain Lion, dubbed build 12F33, comes with no known issues and once again requests developers focus on graphics, Wi-Fi and wake from sleep functionality. Prior to the temporary Dev Center shutdown, Apple was releasing builds of 10.8.5 on a weekly basis.

Both Mavericks and the Mountain Lion update are slated to launch this fall.

Apple releases Q3 2013 numbers, cites $35.3 billion in revenue, $6.9 billion profit

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Date: Wednesday, July 24th, 2013, 06:17
Category: Finance, News, retail

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There wasn’t massive growth, but the numbers were still good.

Per Macworld, Apple reported sales of US$35.3 billion, with net profit at US$6.9 billion for its third fiscal quarter. That translated to earnings of US$7.47 per diluted share. Apple’s revenue marked a record for the June quarter, ticking up 1 percent from the $35 billion Apple posted in last year’s third quarter. Still, profits fell 22 percent year-over-year, down from US$8.88 billion in 2012. Apple also reported a drop in profit during its fiscal second quarter of 2013.

With a tiny increase in revenue but a drop in profit, you’d rightly conclude that Apple’s gross margin dropped: For the quarter, it was 36.9 percent, versus 42.8 percent on the year-ago quarter. That’s because Apple’s most popular products now have lower margins than the top-sellers a year ago.

The company also says it has issued US$18.8 billion in cash to shareholders through dividends and buybacks.

While Apple generally keeps a tight lid on future product announcement, company officials did reiterate a point made during its second-quarter earnings announcement in April—that the company plans to roll out new products starting this fall and into the next year. “We are laser-focused and working hard on some amazing new products,” CEO Tim Cook said in an statement accompanying Apple’s earnings announcement.”

Apple says it sold 32.2 million iPhones—a record for the June quarter. That’s up from 26 million iPhones in the year-ago period. For the U.S., iPhone sales rose 51 percent year-over-year, Apple says.

The picture was less rosy for iPad sales, but Apple has a perfectly reasonable explanation for the 14 percent drop in tablet sales from last year’s third quarter. A year ago, Apple introduced the third-generation iPad and enjoyed a full quarter’s worth of sales to the tune of 17 million units. This quarter, sales fell to 14.6 million iPads.

Still, Apple has plenty of reason to remain bullish on the iPad. Company chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer said that the iPad ranked tops in a 2013 U.S. tablet satisfaction survey by JD Power and Associates. And during the quarter, the company inked a deal with the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest district in the U.S., to roll out iPads to 640,000 students.

In fact, the iPad got the bulk of the credit for a strong quarter of sales to U.S. schools. According to Oppenheimer, the last three months generated the highest quarterly revenue ever for Apple’s U.S. education institution business.

Mac sales also fell in the quarter, down 7 percent from last year to 3.8 million units. Still, Oppenheimer pointed out that the 3.8 million Macs sold beat Apple’s own expectations. And Apple’s sales still were ahead of the total PC market, which saw sales contract by 11 percent according to estimates from research firm IDC. By Apple’s math, the Mac gained market share during the quarter.

The Mac was one of the few product lines to see any changes during the quarter, with Apple updating its MacBook Air lineup at the beginning of June by adding new Intel processors. Company executives had little to say about any impact those new laptops had on overall Mac sales, but Oppenheimer did call it the most successful MacBook Air launch to date, adding that customer response was great.

But during the call, executives implied that there were better things to come. Oppenheimer noted that June’s Worldwide Developers Conference included previews of both the Mac Pro and the next version of OS X, code-named Mavericks.

The iTunes Stores—which includes the App Store, Mac App Store, iBookstore, and the music, movies, and TV sections of iTunes—generated $4.3 billion in billings, Oppenheimer said, culminating in the best week and best month ever for App Store. That translated to quarterly revenue of US$2.4 billion, up 29 percent year over year. Total quarterly revenue from iTunes, software, and services generated US$4 billion in revenue.

Oppenheimer said that Apple now has over 320 million iCloud accounts, and 240 million Game Center accounts.

As for brick-and-mortar retail efforts, the Apple Store saw revenue of US$4.1 billion for the quarter, virtually unchanged from the year-ago quarter. Oppenheimer reported that Apple saw 16,000 visitors per store each week.

For the quarter, Apple had an average of 405 stores, with average revenue per store at US$10.1 million, down US$1 million from the year-ago quarter. Apple opened six stores across five countries during the quarter, giving it 408 stores around the globe; 156 of those outlets are outside the U.S.

The company plans to open nine new stores during the September quarter, giving it 27 new openings during the 2013 fiscal year. It’s not just about new stores, however: Apple says that it relocated four of its stores to more appealing spots; it will complete 23 such relocations before the end 2013 fiscal year in September.

Where stockholders are concerned, the company’s Board of Directors has announced another cash dividend, this one at US$3.05 per share of common stock, payable on August 15 to any shareholder as of August 12.

For the next quarter, Apple is predicting revenue between US$34 billion and US$37 billion, with gross margins between 36 and 37 percent. That sales figure would put Apple’s performance in line with the US$36 billion in revenue it reported in the fourth quarter of 2012. For the coming quarter, Apple also predicts operating expenses will be between US$3.9 billion and US$3.95 billion, with a tax rate of 26.5 percent.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Dropbox announces upcoming data sync service for apps

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Date: Wednesday, July 10th, 2013, 07:12
Category: News, Software

Dropbox is growing.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Dropbox announced that it will begin an iCloud-like data sync service.

The announcement went as follows:

“Today, we’re excited for you try out the beta release of the Datastore API – simple databases for your apps with Dropbox sync built-in! Use datastores to save your app’s data – settings, contacts, or any other content that users create – and Dropbox will take care of all the syncing for you. People who use your Datastore-enabled app can be sure their information will always be up-to-date and available, no matter what device or platform they use.”

Developers will now be able to use Dropbox’s DataStore sync databases to sync any number of different types of data across devices on multiple platforms. This not only includes contacts and files, but also things like game saves and app settings. The DataStore sync also works when a user does not have an Internet connection. Changes are saved locally and the next time a connection is made the changes are synced across devices.

Not a bad thing and stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Mavericks Developer Preview 3 to developer community

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Date: Tuesday, July 9th, 2013, 08:38
Category: News, Software

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Mavericks is coming…

Per MacNN, Apple has posted OS X 10.9 Mavericks Developer Preview 3 on Monday. While it is too soon to notice any significant changes or improvements, the beta is focused on compatibility and performance issues, as well as integrating the forthcoming “iCloud Keychain” feature. The update is still dealing with assorted known issues, including some that render it incompatible with even the last Mavericks and iOS 7 betas. Installation on production machines remains strongly discouraged.

The update, which is just over 1GB in size, doesn’t support virtual machines made by VMWare Fusion, nor does Adobe’s After Effects CS6 work properly. A number of functions in DP3 are not backwards-compatible with previous versions — such as new Fusion Drive volumes, screen recordings, Recovery Partition reinstalls and iCloud Keychain. The latter, an expansion of the ability to sync keychains between devices, still has a number of serious known issues.

The iCloud Keychain proposes to move the centralized storage of secure passwords, website usernames and other important data to iCloud, with entries encrypted using 256-bit AES. This enables users to take more advantage of the built-in Password Generator that creates unmemorable complex passwords for online accounts, since users don’t have to remember the password itself, just the one master password that unlocks the keychain and can be used across any devices the user has.

The release notes refer to issues with QuickTime Player, Aperture, Photoshop, Maps and others. The new update does include a newer version of OpenSSH, 6.2p2, but also lists a number of odd bugs such as “the headphone port on the new 2013 MacBook Air will not operate unless headphones are present at boot” and “on some machines, frequently sleeping and waking may result in the machines restarting,” indicating that the latest release is still far from being ready for public consumption. Migration from Windows is still not supported, and network migration from earlier versions of OS X requires a Migration Update (for Snow Leopard and later) that is only available from the Mac Dev Center.

The forthcoming Mavericks promises users long-requested features such as Finder Tabs and better multi-monitor support, extensive efficiency routines that should prolong battery life, improved Maps, a faster Safari, iBooks for the Mac and many other new and improved features. It is expected sometime in the early fall, although no exact release date has been released.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.