Skype for iPad updated for version 4.10, receives HD video calls on iPad 4, call quality improvements

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Date: Monday, August 12th, 2013, 07:26
Category: News, Software

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On Monday, Skype released version 4.10 of its iPad app with the ability to make HD quality video calls in addition to several other performance improvements.

Per 9to5 Mac, the HD video calling feature is only available on the fourth-generation iPad, and version 4.10 also brings the following fixes and changes:
- Make HD quality video calls from your iPad 4.

- General improvements to call quality and stability.

- A redesigned country code picker on the dial pad.

Skype 4.10 is available for free and requires iOS 5.0 or later to install and run.

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

Rumor: Apple to hold iPhone media event on September 10th

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Date: Monday, August 12th, 2013, 07:40
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

The next-gen Apple iPhone may have a media event date.

Per All Things Digital and AppleInsider, unnamed sources have indicated that Apple is looking to hold a media event for the long-anticipated iPhone model on September 10th. That date would occur on the second to the last day of the IFA consumer electronics trade show being held in Berlin, Germany from September 6-11. Samsung is expected to announce its Galaxy Note 3 at the show, and HTC may release its own “One Max” phablet.

The event is expected to officially release the redesigned new iOS 7, which Apple says will support the existing iPhone 4 or later and iPad 2 or later models now being sold, as well as the 5th generation or newer iPod touch.

Apple is expected release an enhanced new iPhone 5S with a similar form factor to the existing iPhone 5.

The new iPhone 5S is expected to introduce enhanced new features thought to include a camera with potentially a dual LED, a faster processor, and potentially the fingerprint sensor technology it acquired with AuthenTec.

Apple is also rumored to potentially release a new iPhone 5C aimed at entry level users, sporting cases in multiple colors and a lower price targeting first time smartphone buyers.

Leaked schematics that appeared in June depicted a new low-cost iPhone model that would be a hair wider and taller than the iPhone 5S.

The documents also suggested that the new low-cost iPhone will be about 0.8 millimeters thicker than the iPhone 4S, with back edges that are rounded off, similar to the iPod classic.

Apple is also expected to capitalize on the continuing, strong performance of iPhone 4, which is now nearly three years old. A revamped iPhone 5C, also referenced in rumors as an “iPhone Lite,” could provide Apple with a more modern but still entry level priced device with support for features introduced after the iPhone 4 was developed in 2010.

In Apple’s most recent conference call, its chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer stated that “iPhone 5 remains by far the most popular iPhone, but we were also very happy with sales of iPhone 4 and 4S,” later adding that “iPhone 4 sales accelerated as we offered more affordable pricing in emerging and in other markets.””The number of first time smartphone buyers that the iPhone 4 is attracting is very, very impressive.”

Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook referenced lower iPhone 4 pricing as a significant factor in the “unusual” growth in iPhone sales in the June quarter, noting that “with the moves that we made on [iPhone] 4 and with iPhone 5 continuing to be the most popular model, we saw very strong sales in several of the emerging markets, sort of pre-pay markets.”

Cook later added that “what we’ve seen is that the number of first time smartphone buyers that the iPhone 4 is attracting is very, very impressive. We want to attract as many of these buyers as we can and we saw that beginning to happen toward the end of the Q2 timeframe, as I’d referenced on last quarter’s call, and we did that on a wider spread basis, offered more affordable pricing on a wider scale basis this quarter, and continue to be very happy with what we saw.

“Where iPhone 5 continues to be the most popular iPhone by far, we’re really happy to provide an incredible high quality product with iPhone 4 running iOS 6 to as many first-time smartphone buyers as we can, and I think it’s proven to be exactly a great product for that buyer.”

Stay tuned for additional details about the upcoming media event as they become available.

Google Play Books for iOS updated to 1.6.0, adds textbook rental support

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Date: Friday, August 9th, 2013, 06:16
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

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This is kind of nifty.

Per AppleInsider,

Google on Thursday updated its iBooks-like Google Play Books port, bringing in-app rentals, highlighting and note taking for scanned books, as well as other features to the iOS title.

Now at version 1.6.0, Google Play Books for iOS now supports in-app rentals, which allows users to access select books from the service’s “millions of titles” on their iPhone, iPad or iPod.

In addition to existing rental titles, users can choose from Google Play’s newly introduced digital textbook library. According to Google’s website, students can save up to 80 percent off the cost of physical textbooks by renting through its service.

With the new service, users can highlight, make notes and, in some cases, copy text from textbooks during the rental period. A quick look at the Google Play store shows a number of titles are already available.

Aside from textbooks the latest version of Google Play Books allows users to mark up books compiled from scanned pages. A new sepia reading mode and stability improvements round out the update’s changes.

Google Play Books comes in at 16.6MB, can be downloaded for free via the App Store and requires iOS 5.0 or later to install and run.

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

Comcast Labs DVR app comes to iTunes Store, looks to take on Sling, Tivo services

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Date: Thursday, August 8th, 2013, 11:48
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

This could come in handy.

Per the cool cats at Engadget and The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Comcast has released a new cloud-based DVR app to the iTunes store.

The app actually showed up back in July but is only being spotted now. The reason for that is because the app is companion software to a Comcast service that has not rolled out to a large audience yet. That service is called “X2″ and combines a set-top box with cloud storage to allow users to DVR their favorite shows and store them in the cloud.

Once the service rolls out, the Comcast Labs DVR app will allow users to access their cloud-based DVR (cDVR) programs when behind a Comcast modem. From the app’s description:

This app is intended for customers of our new cDVR Service enabling our new best in class DVR service. With this app, customers will have access to their Comcast video services on an iPad® or iPhone® while in their home behind a Comcast cable modem.

The Comcast Labs DVR app is available for free and requires iOS 5.1 or later to install and run.

Apple releases fifth iOS 7 beta to developer community, tweaks icons, Control Center, etc.

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Date: Wednesday, August 7th, 2013, 06:07
Category: News, Software

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The fifth iOS 7 beta is out and the new operating system is coming that much closer to fruition.

Per 9to5Mac, a little over a week after iOS 7 beta 4, Apple has seeded iOS 7 beta 5 to developers via and over-the-air Software Update. The previous beta brought several minor interface and performance tweaks to the operating system and beta 5 will likely continue doing that.

The new beta adds the following fixes and changes:
- All Settings icons redesigned (left is new).

- More Yahoo presence.

- New Twitter icon in share sheet.

- Can now disable Control Center while in apps.

- Major performance improvements across the system.

- Camera swipe access from Lock screen is easier.

- New slide to power off design.

- New in-call icons.

- New option to pull down on a banner.

- Some transparency, blur, UI animation changes across the system.

- Can access icons in a folder during animation.

- Some blurs and effects disabled on iPad mini (likely to improve performance).

- Users can now bring back “on/off” labels on switches. Enable in Accessibility.

iOS 7 is expected to be released this fall as well as feature a significant redesign and new features for the mobile operating system.

If you’ve had a chance to play with the new beta and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple revises iTunes EULA, allows Educational accounts to users under 13

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Date: Monday, August 5th, 2013, 11:05
Category: iTunes, Legal, News, Software

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Your students will be able to open Educational accounts under Apple’s revised iTunes End User License Agreement.

Per Macworld, Apple on Thursday altered its iTunes Terms and Conditions to permit children under the age of 13 to operate individual iTunes accounts created at the request of an “approved educational institution.”

Previously, Apple restricted iTunes accounts to children aged 13 or older, but the company announced it would be changing its policy with the release of iOS 7.

The new terms are as follows:
“These App and Book Services are only available for individuals aged 13 years or older, unless you are under 13 years old and your Apple ID was provided to you as a result of a request by an approved educational institution. If you are 13 or older but under the age of 18, you should review this Agreement with your parent or guardian to make sure that you and your parent or guardian understand it.”

With Apple’s new educational policies, schools will have a program to facilitate Apple obtaining “verifiable parental consent for personal Apple IDs for students under age 13.” In addition, Apple also plans to introduce better tools for teachers.

iOS 7, which is expected to be released to the public in the fall, offers new Mobile Device Management options allowing teachers to set up managed apps, configure accessibility options, and restrict changes to accounts. Teachers will be able to lock student iPads to a particular app as well, to ensure that students are “on the same activity at the same time.”

The new operating system will also bring an App Store Volume Purchase Program designed to allow educational institutions to assign apps to users while maintaining ownership and control over app licenses.

Apple’s policy shift comes as the company continues its push for iPads in educational institutions. Apple has been involved in several large deals in recent months and won a US$30 million contract from the L.A. Unified School District in June that will see the district purchasing iPads for every student in its 47 schools. Apple also met with the Turkish President earlier this year about a potential US$4.5 billion deal that would provide Turkish schoolchildren with as many as 15 million tablets.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple hiring additional engineers for Maps team, will include “Frequent Locations” feature in iOS 7

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Date: Monday, August 5th, 2013, 08:33
Category: News, Software

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It’s Apple’s jobs page that tends to point to where things are going.

Per AppleInsider, Apple is actively recruiting for scores of new full time jobs related to Maps. The company also plans to enlist the support of its installed base of 400 million iOS users with an opt-in invitation to “Help Improve Maps” in iOS 7.

Part of the initial setup of iOS 7 includes an option to “Help Improve Maps,” which as Apple explains, ties into Frequent Locations, a new feature of iOS 7.

Frequent Locations remembers places you’ve been, similar to the the bookmarks history of your web browser, is are presented next to Maps Bookmarks and locations attached to Contacts (below left).

Users who choose to activate both features will have their Frequent Locations linked to their iCloud / Apple ID account so the system can automatically calculate driving (or walking) directions to locations as users select them in Maps (below right, directions to Mavericks).

Apple also benefits from anonymously storing coordinate information because it helps the company verify how accurate its driving time estimates are, by comparing them to the actual time it takes users to arrive.

Apple’s Jobs website currently returns dozens of open positions related to Maps. Among these are a series of Maps Ground Truth Local Experts, in listings that state that “the Maps team is looking for people with a passion for mapping, great testing skills, and deep regional knowledge to help us build better and better maps.

“In this position, you will be responsible for the quality assessment of Apple Maps for your region, including both data and map services. You will monitor changes to our maps, provide feedback on unique local map requirements, collect ground truth information, and evaluate competing products.”

Apple currently lists openings for ground truth local experts in Washington D.C., Chicago, New York City and Los Angeles in the U.S., as well as European positions in Amsterdam, Berlin, Dublin, Istanbul, Madrid, Milan, Moscow, Paris, Prague, Rome, Stockholm, the U.K. and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, India, Australia and Southeast Asia, China, and specific Asian cities that include Beijing, Hong Kong, Sapporo, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo and Osaka.

The company also lists a series of open positions based in or around Apple’s Cupertino headquarters, ranging from scientists to pour through its reams of geodata to QA staff to find bugs and a variety of specialized engineers to develop new features. These include:

Maps Bug Triage Engineer: “Maps problems are challenging to triage and debug. When a business is in the wrong location on the map, the issue could be anything from the address being wrong in our data to the conversion of the address to a latitude and longitude not working properly. We’re looking for engineers to help triage internal problem reports, reproduce problems, and help us learn how to diagnose and triage problems better”

Maps Services QA Manager: “To test Maps well, we need to understand how the world is reflected in code and data, and also how to build great QA systems. Some tests can only be done manually, while other areas can only be covered adequately through large-scale automation.”

Maps Process QA Engineer: “Maps is an interconnected series of services that each have their own teams working to create the best user experience possible. It can be challenging to understand all the working pieces let alone understand their QA needs. We’re looking for individuals who can help bridge the gap and document the unique QA requirements needed for each service.”

Maps Process QA Analyst: “In this role you’ll work directly with Process QA Engineers and you’ll learn something about how every part of Maps works. You’ll be testing and documenting the QA processes involved in qualifying every component. ” “Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Large Scale Data Mining, Network Analysis, Information Retrieval, Probabilistic Modeling. These skills are required for developing models for identifying patterns and anomalies and for mining structured, semi-structured and unstructured data.”

Maps Senior Data Scientist: “The Maps Data Insights team has an opening for a craftsman skilled in Large Scale Data Mining and Machine Learning for making significant contributions in improving Apple Maps, involving the following techniques: Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Large Scale Data Mining, Network Analysis, Information Retrieval, Probabilistic Modeling. These skills are required for developing models for identifying patterns and anomalies and for mining structured, semi-structured and unstructured data.”

Software Engineer – Maps Navigation: “The Maps team is looking for a proactive and motivated software engineer to focus on Apple’s turn-by-turn navigation experience.”

Maps Web Applications Engineer: “If you are motivated by building applications that will be used by millions of people and have a penchant for visual details, this is an opportunity to build web applications that will help engage the community and internal teams to visualize maps data and to solicit input to improve the maps quality.”

iOS Software Engineers – Maps (multiple positions): As an engineer on the Maps team, your responsibilities will be working with advanced dynamic label layout of road labels, points of interest and other labels on the map; rendering of 3D flyover models, mesh generation of terrain, road rendering; implementing real-time rendering techniques, creating new and innovative features, solving challenging algorithmic problems and fixing problems. You will be working both on the client and the server to create a state of the art map.”

“The MapKit team is looking for a proactive and hardworking software engineer to join our team. We are looking for an engineer that’s skilled with algorithms related to mapping. Familiarity with different spatial algorithms and data structures, such as R Trees, Quad Trees, BSP Trees are a big plus.”

Maps Software Engineer – Hadoop: “The Maps Data Insights team is chartered to look at various data signals, derive insights regarding map quality, and use those insights to drive improvements in Maps. Combining disparate signals such as community feedback and probe data to validate our maps is an opportunity that combines large scale data processing, analytics and visualization.”

Maps POI- Big Data Engineer: “Use Big Data technologies to extract data from existing NoSQL systems into system that can generate reports needed by business. Create unique ways to visualize and move our data.”

Maps Raster Data Domain Expert: “You’ll be guiding maps and LBS quality measurement, visualization, and analysis to derive actionable insights through raster analysis, classification, and feature extraction. You will approach map data and location-based service (LBS) quality metrics with the creativity and inquisitiveness of a scientist — identifying and incorporating various geospatial, big data, and other resources. You will collaborate with excellent developers, system architects, regional experts, project managers, and other domain experts.”

Maps Traffic Accuracy Domain Expert: “The Maps Community and Data Insights team is chartered to analyze various data signals, generate insights, and leverage them to improve Apple Maps. In this role, you’ll be guiding maps and LBS quality measurement, visualization, and analysis to derive actionable insights on traffic data quality.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Netflix to add multi-user profiles to subscriber accounts

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, August 1st, 2013, 06:40
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

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This may cut down on some potential arguments in the future.

Per AppleInsider, Netflix on Thursday rolled out a long-awaited feature to its iOS and Apple TV apps, allowing subscribers to maintain separate profiles for individual users sharing one account.

Subscribers will be able to add up to five profiles for each account they own. Profiles will receive unique personalized suggestions based on viewing habits and ratings.

More importantly, those individual accounts will each have their own Instant Queue and Recently Watched lists. For example, parents will no longer have to share a queue with their children, or even spouses with each other, if they so choose.

Each personal profile can also be attached to a different Facebook account, allowing for personalized suggestions from that individual’s friends on the social networking site.

Netflix has promised that the new user profiles will roll out to iPad, iPhone and Apple TV “over the next few days.” Other devices set to receive support in the immediate future are Sony’s PlayStation 3, Microsoft’s Xbox 360, and newer Smart TV and Blu-ray players. Support for Nintendo Wii and Android has been promised to arrive “soon.”

User profiles first began appearing on the Apple TV set-top box earlier this week as part of a test run. That roll-out coincidentally happened after the launch of a new Apple TV software beta, leading some to incorrectly assume the two were related. Current Apple TV owners will receive the feature without needing to run a pre-release beta.

Competition in the mobile streaming space is heating up, with Google’s newly released US$35 Chromecast dongle offering users the ability to stream content from an iPhone or Android device directly to their TV. While less fully featured than the Apple TV, the device is available at about a third of the price.

The price of a refurbished Apple TV direct from Apple also hit a new low this week, and is now available for just US$75, knocking 25 percent off the cost of a new model. A new Apple TV software update, expected to arrive this fall, will also give users the ability to purchase music directly from the device.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you try this new Netflix account feature and have any feedback to offer, please let us know about your experience in the comments.

Rumor: Retina Display iPad mini could arrive later this year with displays from Samsung, new back colors a possibility

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Date: Thursday, August 1st, 2013, 06:00
Category: Hardware, iPad mini, Rumor

At this point, it’s still a rumor.

But it’s a sexy rumor.

Per 9to5Mac and the Wall Street Journal, Apple is sourcing components from Samsung to produce a Retina Display version of the iPad mini later this year. Screens from Sharp and LG Display will also be used. Apple is apparently also considering multi-colored back plates for the iPad mini. This sounds similar to what Apple offers on the latest iPod touch models. Earlier today, it had been reported that Apple will be sourcing components for its next chipset from Samsung.

Recent reports indicated that developers had located references to a likely non-Retina iPad mini with an A6 processor in iOS 7 code. It’s likely that this model, as has been mentioned earlier, could simply be an internal-only device that never ships, or an iPad mini update that Apple once planned, yet scrapped. Perhaps the recent introduction of the ultra-high resolution Nexus 7 tablet escalated Apple’s need to ship the much wanted Retina iPad mini.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Latest Apple TV beta allows for iOS device pairing, NFC-like setup

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Date: Tuesday, July 30th, 2013, 07:58
Category: iOS, News, Software

It’s been proven time and time again: the beta versions show the cool stuff that’s en route.

Per 9to5Mac, the latest beta version of iOS 7 for mobile devices and Apple TV introduces a new method of pairing your iOS device’s Remote app with your Apple TV. Previously, the pairing procedure required the use of the regular infrared remote that comes with the Apple TV. The new beta allows the user to simply tap the phone on the Apple TV to connect using Bluetooth. The feature requires a Bluetooth 4.0-capable device, which means only more recent iOS devices are supported.

It’s possible that Apple is using this setup process as a testing platform to decide whether Bluetooth 4.0 could be used as a method of authorizing payments, much like NFC is used on many Android phones. While Phil Schiller noted last year that he did not believe NFC was a critical feature for the iPhone, perhaps Apple is making plans to add NFC-style features via Bluetooth instead. The company could also be considering a tap-to-share AirDrop much like the “bump” feature seen on recent Nexus devices and other Android phones.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.